Thursday, February 29, 2024

Timber deal lumbers towards completion

Good morning. A very quick Friday blog for you.

Let’s start with news from the Netherlands that Arsenal and Ajax have agreed a fee for defender Jurrien Timber. Dutch sources say the fee will be €42m with a further €5m in add-ons. Edu loves his add-ons.

Assuming that’s on the level, it seems like a very good price for a highly-rated player, not least because Man Utd got squeezed to the max for Antony by the same club last summer. To be fair, they did also get Lisandro Martinez for what seemed a much more reasonable fee, so perhaps Ajax view defenders differently. Also, Martinez can’t do pointless circles, which is what you pay the big money for, obviously.

Timber, as a right-back and right-sided centre-half, adds some quality to that area of the pitch, and it’s interesting to see what our defensive line-ups might potentially look like next season.

Right-back: Ben White, Jurrien Timber, Takehiro Tomiyasu

Right centre-half: William Saliba, Ben White, Jurrien Timber, Takehiro Tomiyasu

Left centre-half: Gabriel, Jakub Kiwior, Takehiro Tomiyasu

Left-back: Oleksandr Zinchenko, Jukub Kiwior, Takehiro Tomiyasu

I haven’t included Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney, because I suspect that both could be very much in the departure lounge. Without them, it’s still a pretty strong line-up of defenders. Tomiyasu is essentially a Swiss Army Knife player in that he can operate in all of the defensive positions. I know he hasn’t really played right centre-half for us, but he plays his international football as a left-sided centre-half, and at a push he could definitely shift over.

Is it enough though? I feel it might just be a bit light on the left-hand side, and we have to acknowledge that both of Tomiyasu’s seasons with us have been beset by injury. I like him a lot, and I think he’s going to be an important player, but that’s not something you can ignore. With things going pretty quiet regarding Tierney and Newcastle, perhaps he might stay, but that’s a decision you have to make taking into account how the player might feel about another season on the periphery of the first team.

Nobody gets overly excited about defenders, but we saw how the absence of one key player impacted the side last season. It looks as if the move for Timber has been made in direct response to that, to give us the quality and depth we need on that side. I just worry a little about the left, and if we’re talking injuries, it’s also fair to point out that Zinchenko has never gone through a Premier League campaign without some issues himself. Even if Kiwior/Tomiyasu can fill that gap, a double-whammy injury like we had with William Saliba and Tomi last season would leave us a bit short.

No doubt it’s something the manager is well aware of, but I suspect we’re now very much in the phase of the summer where our attention will turn to outgoings. To spend more, we’re probably going to have to sell, and for me this is going to be a fascinating aspect of this window. I think Edu – in his role as Sporting Director (assisted by his own team) – has demonstrated that he can buy well, but that’s only one part of his job. Generating revenue by maximising the value of players we no longer consider vital to the project is another, and on this, I think there’s still something to prove.

The window is long though, and there’s plenty of time yet, but it will be so interesting to see how that part of it goes. The reality of Arsenal’s last few windows have been significant outlays without much coming in, and the money you can generate might well enable you to do a little bit more in the market.

Right, I’m leaving it there for now. There’s a brand new Arsecast available below, enjoy that, and we’ll have any breaking news for you over on Arseblog News.

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