£51m move, £35m swoop, and patient option: 3 Manchester United alternatives to Timber blow

Manchester United’s hopes of signing Ajax defender Jurrien Timber appear to be over for this summer, after The Guardian reported he is set to stay at the Dutch club.

Timber wants to protect his World Cup spot, having been warned by Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal that he could be axed if he does not immediately become an Old Trafford starter.

United should not waste any more time on Timber this summer, and start making alternative moves. The defence needs improving after conceding 58 goals in 38 Premier League games last season.

While the club have various options in defence – Timber was once of seven centre-backs linked recently – there are three standout moves for Manchester United to now make.

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Three top United alternatives to Timber blow

£51m move: The most expensive of United’s options, with a very specific price, paying Pau Torres’ 60 million Euro release clause.

Torres would be more costly than any move for Timber, and United would be getting a more developed and experienced player, who may fancy an upgrade on playing in the Europa Conference League with Villarreal next season.

Spanish newspaper AS report Torres is open to a move, and his place in Spain’s World Cup squad is assured.

A move for the 25-year-old would really shake up Manchester United’s defence, with one of Harry Maguire or Raphael Varane likely to be dropped. Torres is good enough to be a weekly starter, and he should expect to be, if signed for such a big price.

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£35m move: A more cost-effective transfer move may be for Erik ten Hag to raid Ajax, not for Jurrien Timber, but for teammate Lisandro Martinez.

Martinez was linked to United last month by The Telegraph, priced at around £35 million, but there is a risk another Premier League rival beat the Red Devils to the punch.

The Mail report Arsenal are attempting to sign Martinez, having had a £30 million move rejected, and so if United do want the Argentine international, it is time to move quickly and decisively.

Martinez was signed by Erik ten Hag in 2020, and was a key player in his title-winning side last season. For such a reasonable price, this feels like a sensible way to pivot with Timber deciding against a move.

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Patient option: If Manchester United truly believe that Timber is head and shoulders the best player for the position, then there is a strong case to simply wait until January, after the World Cup has been played.

There are 22 Premier League games to be played after the tournament, 20 of which Timber could be eligible for if he signed on January 1, and a move would not just be made with an eye on this season, but with a long-term view.

Timber is just 20, and would be signed on a five and a half year deal. He would become the key figure in United’s defence for a long time, and he might be worth waiting a few extra months for.

It is important for United not to burn bridges with Timber or Ajax, or settle for a player who Ten Hag does not believe will be right for his long-term vision at Old Trafford.

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