Former Premier League star Rafael Van der Vaart wonders if a move to Manchester United would come too soon for Ajax defender Jurrien Timber this summer.

As far as the one-time Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid playmaker is concerned, you need only look at Ryan Gravenberch’s Bundesliga struggles at Bayern Munich to see the potential pitfalls of a move to one of Europe’s major clubs.

One of the first names on Erik ten Hag’s Ajax team sheet, Gravenberch has started just two league games since joining Bayern for a cool £21 million. 

But there is no reason to believe that history is destined to repeat itself with Jurrien Timber. In former Ajax boss Ten Hag, Manchester United have a coach who knows and trusts one of Europe’s most exciting defenders, having claimed two Eredivisie titles alongside Timber at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

PSV Eindhoven v AFC Ajax - Dutch Eredivisie
Photo by Broer van den Boom/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Will Erik ten Hag reunite with Jurrien Timber at Manchester United?

What’s more, the 21-year-old Netherlands international is a square peg for a square hole, as far as fitting into Ten Hag’s system is concerned. A naturally-gifted, ball-playing centre-half; Timber is probably better suited to the Dutchman’s tactical approach than the more technically-limited Raphael Varane.

And did we mention that Timber already has an excellent understanding with Lisandro Martinez, having played alongside the World Cup winner during Ajax’s 2021/22 Eredivisie-winning campaign?

This has not stopped Van der Vaart from suggesting that Timber would be better off spending one more year in Holland, however, amid suggestions that his partner is already house-hunting in England’s north west.

“I am a huge fan of him,” Van der Vaart tells Ziggo Sport. “Sometimes he is too good, so he deals with situations too casually.

“(But) this season has been difficult for the whole team. I think that, if you stay and things go better next season, you will join a bigger club after next season.

“You see (what can go wrong) with Gravenberch.”

‘Really special’

Timber is reportedly valued at around £43 million. Similar to the fee Manchester United would have to pay to bring in another ball-playing centre-half in Napoli’s Kim-Min Jae.

“He really has a lot of potential,” Man United icon Jaap Stam tells Algemeen Dagblad of Timber. “But he doesn’t have to make a choice for the money or the name (of the club) now. We often see that go wrong.

“At Ajax, he has the guarantee of fighting for titles.”

“Clubs like Bayern Munich and Barcelona want players who are special on the ball. Timber also has that quality because he thinks ahead, can turn and dribble well,” Stam adds.

“Attacking trainers select on that basis, because such players easily create overloads and make the team increasingly dominant. Ten Hag likes Frenkie de Jong so much for a good reason.

“(Timber’s) technique makes him really special. And those players often fit better in La Liga – technically the best league in Europe – rather than the Premier League.”

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