Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal has warned that Jurrien Timber needs to be playing regular first-team football to make the World Cup squad this winter.
The 20-year-old has emerged as Manchester United’s number one centre-back target, and talks are already underway with Ajax over a potential transfer.
United boss Erik ten Hag is keen on a reunion after working with the youngster over the past two years, but a deal appears in the balance at the moment.
Timber is said to want guaranteed minutes at United, but he is also wary of missing out on the World Cup, suppose he struggles to adapt to the Premier League.
Amidst this, Van Gaal has given the go-ahead for Timber to join United, but warned him against a move this summer with the World Cup in a few months.
He told reporters via Sky Sports: “I think a player of his quality can play in the Premier League. That is not a problem.”
“If he has to make this big step now, that’s the question. (If he does not play) then he is not so wise, I think. He has to play.”
Ajax are said to demand around £42.5 million for their graduate. United won’t be unfazed by the transfer valuation, but the main stumbling block could be the player himself.
Timber had a superb 2021/22 campaign with the Amsterdam giants. He averaged 2.1 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per game in all competitions while completing over 90 per cent of his passes.
He lacks the aerial presence at 179cm, but still won 1.2 aerial duels per game and does not shy away from physical challenges. He would be a quality acquisition for the Red Devils this summer.
Timber may have second thoughts over a United move, but it is unlikely that Ten Hag will urge the club to make a huge outlay on him unless he considers him as a key figure in the starting XI.
The Dutchman faces competition from Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof in particular for a starting spot in central defence, but his versatility also allows him to play at right-back.
With Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka not offering much creativity in the final third last term, there is a possibility that Timber could operate from the role if he does not feature at the heart of the defence.
Hence, he does not need to contemplate over a move to Old Trafford. Hopefully, Ten Hag can get the same message across and assure him a regular starting berth in the lead-up to the winter World Cup.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com and WhoScored.com
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