Thursday, February 29, 2024

Timber signs, and ticks Arteta’s boxes

One down, one to go (for now).

Arsenal yesterday confirmed the signing of Jurrien Timber from Ajax, a deal we all knew was waiting to happen. He’s a player who ticks a lot of boxes for Mikel Arteta. He’s young but experienced, versatile in that he can play in a number of positions, there’s still room to develop and improve, and he’s got some love of Arsenal baked in.

The manager says:

Jurrien is a young player, but has already achieved so much. He has experienced what it’s like to go to a major international tournament on more than one occasion, as well as the trophies he has won with Ajax. We look forward to welcoming and integrating Jurrien into the squad.

While the player spoke about his attraction to this club, saying:

It was because of my brothers. They were always Arsenal fans, and I just loved seeing Arsenal play. They had big players, the way they played, the style. I just love the club. I had this from a young age, but my brothers kind of put that in me. I liked watching Robin van Persie of course, and Thierry Henry. They were my favourite players.

Which is nice, but obviously not the reason we bought him. We’ll have to wait and see where he is selected, but he spoke about his versatility:

I think that I’m lucky to say that I can play as a central defender, as a right full-back, sometimes even on the midfield. I think that’s a good thing and I need to keep that.

Last season at Ajax he played as a centre-half, but I suspect he’s been brought in to complete a trio of right-sided defenders with Ben White and William Saliba. All three can play centrally, but White and Timber can operate as right-backs – albeit in slightly different ways, so I think that bit of variety is a factor in his arrival too.

On the other side we have a trio of Gabriel, Jakub Kiwior and Oleksandr Zinchenko – again there’s variety, and of course for now we also have Kieran Tierney. That leaves Takehiro Tomiyasu as something of a Swiss Army Knife defender – he can play in every single position across the back-line to provide depth and quality. It’s certainly an interesting defensive roster we’ve assembled.

For more on Timber and what kind of a player he is, Phil Costa has a profile piece here on site, and we go into much more depth on him in podcast format over on Patreon.

Player announcement videos are now part and parcel of the transfer cycle, but it’s quite rare you see a club put together a goodbye video for a player. Ajax’s farewell to Timber is really lovely, but it also tells you plenty about the kind of player and personality we’re bringing in. I do think that latter part is worth mentioning, because while we think first and foremost of a player’s ability on the pitch, it really does feel like Arteta and Edu do their homework on the person too. Arteta has made some very difficult decisions to cultivate the kind of dressing room he wants, and it’s obvious he wants the talent to come in the right package.

As well, if you haven’t seen the video of the Dutchman’s first day at the club, it’s well worth a watch via the official site. From Edu going to the airport to pick up Timber and his family, Mikel Arteta charming the mum, and the involvement of people like Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere, it’s a great way to welcome a new player. It might be #content, but it also shows the holistic approach that exists within the club these days. Everything is connected, everyone is part of it all. I really like it.

So, we’ll get our first glimpse of him on the US tour and hopefully he can follow in the footsteps of former Ajax alumni like … oh … Dennis Bergkamp, Kanu and Marc Overmars, and have a successful time in North London. Big footsteps to sort of follow in, but I’m really excited about what he can do in this version of red and white.

Beyond that, Declan Rice has said his goodbyes to West Ham, and the chatter is he’ll be announced today. Let’s wait and see.

For now, have a good one.

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