Manchester United can kick off Erik ten Hag’s first transfer window as manager by solving two problems with one signing.
Ten Hag will want to refurbish several areas of the squad he inherits this summer but only so much can be done in his opening few months at the helm.
United are understood to be ‘pushing ahead’ with a move for Ajax defender Jurrien Timber and talks are ongoing. Ten Hag wants to bring the versatile 20-year-old with him to Old Trafford and could very well make him the inaugural recruit of his rebuild.
The Dutchman has pinpointed a centre-back, striker and two midfielders, one of them defensive, as priorities in his first transfer window since becoming United manager. And while Timber would bolster his options in central defence, he would also act as reinforcements at right-back.
Diogo Dalot has been told that he features in Ten Hag’s plans for next season, but Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been formally informed that he can leave M16 this summer. And his expected departure leaves space for a new right-back to arrive, and it’s a role Timber can fulfil when required.
In the 43 appearances the Dutch defender made for Ajax under Ten Hag this season, 38 came at centre-back, but he featured as a right-back in the other five. And he interestingly hasn’t looked out of place when playing on the right side of the defence, seemingly encouraging his boss.
While United will likely want to recruit a natural right-back further down in Ten Hag’s rebuild, funds aren’t unlimited. The absence of Champions League football lowers the ceiling of potential expenditure.
The 52-year-old coach has heavily relied on versatile players throughout his successful reign in Amsterdam, though, which is why Timber will appeal so much.
In an ideal world, Ten Hag will hope he can help Harry Maguire regain his confidence and form a strong partnership with Raphael Varane in the heart of his backline.
With Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe likely to leave, Timber could act as first-choice right-back while providing central cover with Victor Lindelof.
Ajax are understood to value him at around £35million, a fee United won’t have a problem paying for a player proven under Ten Hag. It would mark an exciting and shrewd start to a busy summer of dealings through both the welcome and exit doors.