Ajax defender Jurrien Timber is being linked with a move to Manchester United, following the recent speculation regarding Ajax manager Erik ten Hag and the vacant managerial position at Old Trafford.
With the anticipated arrival of Erik ten Hag as United’s next manager, there are reports that the Reds could do more business with the Dutch side and make a move for Timber in the summer transfer window. United have struggled defensively with a number of players in poor form and not at the quality required to perform at the top level, which could see the 20-year-old Dutch defender end up at Old Trafford, particularly if Ten Hag was to take charge .
There’s likely to be a big overhaul of the squad this summer, with many players out of contract or set to leave the Reds at the end of the season. United and Ten Hag will need to address the midfield and defensive frailties that exist in the squad if they are to challenge for trophies once again.
READ MORE: Manchester United might already have their first disagreement with Erik ten Hag
So, if Timber was to make the move to United in the summer, what sort of impact could he have at Old Trafford? Could the Dutch defend help United bridge the gap to Man City and Liverpool? We simulated the 2022/23 season with Timber in United’s squad and this is what happened.
We ‘signed’ Jurrien Timber for Man United in the summer transfer windows
To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2022 editor to arrange for Timber to join United and Ten Hag to become United manager at the start of the 2022/23 season, using FM22 to run the simulation. This is what Timber’s in-game profile looks like on FM22.
At 20-years-old, Timber is already accomplished in multiple positions including centre-back, right-back and defensive midfield. The Dutchman has brilliant mental and physical attributes, whilst also excelling in key areas technically for a defensive-minded player.
Timber likes to bring the ball out from defense, suiting Ten Hag’s possession-based tactical style with great Passing (14), Technique (15) and Work Rate (15). So, how did Timber perform for United in his debut season at Old Trafford?
The 20-year-old played a mixture of positions for United due to his versatility but largely was utilized as a right-back, similar to how Takehiro Tomiyasu plays in Arsenal’s defensive line as a third centre-back playing at right-back, which gave the side a solid defensive shape. Timber registered two assists in 40 appearances in all competitions, which is a decent return for a young defender in their debut season in the Premier League, particularly one that didn’t overlap too often.
The Dutch defender averaged a match rating of 7.08 in all competitions, ranking him as the ninth-best player at the club and third-best defender in the squad. Timber demonstrated his brilliant passing and tackling ability with a 94% pass completion rate and 76% tackle success rate in all competitions.
At the end of the 2022/23 season, Football Manager 2022 put together an overall best Manchester United XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics. This is what the United best XI looked like at the end of the 2022/23 season as predicted by Football Manager 2022.
Full United best XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Timber, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; Van de Beek, McTominay; Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo.
Timber can play multiple positions but was utilized at right back the most under Ten Hag, with Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka dropping to the bench. Donny van de Beek found form under his former Ajax manager after returning to United and played alongside McTominay in defensive midfield.
So, how did United get on in the Premier League and cup competitions with Timber in the squad? Let’s take a look.
Manchester United’s performance in all competitions
United finished third in the Premier League under Ten Hag with Timber in the squad, qualifying for the Champions League, and finished just five points behind Man City and Liverpool. The Reds were involved in the title race but fell away late on as goals dried up, leading to a number of draws, despite having the second-best defensive record in the division.
United were able to leapfrog Chelsea and Arsenal in the table due to the defensive improvement made with Timber in the side and Ten Hag’s new tactics. In comparison to the 2020/21 season, United finished one league position lower, but with a better goal difference by +1 and three more points.
Ten Hag’s side were able to complete a domestic double and win both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup, which could be the reason why their league form suffered towards the back end of the season. In Europe, United were dumped out of the Europa League by Borussia Dortmund in the second knockout round.
Overall, this Football Manager simulation predicts that if United were to sign Jurrien Timber ahead of the 2022/23 season, the Dutch defender’s performances could contribute to a drastic improvement in the Reds’ defensive record. With Ten Hag deploying the 20-year-old at right-back alongside Varane, Maguire and Shaw, this simulation predicts that the youngster could become a crucial player for United, helping the club return to winning ways by lifting both the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, whilst also challenging for the Premier League title once again.
Would you like to see Jurrien Timber sign for Manchester United? Let us know in the comments!
Sign up to our United newsletter so you never miss an update from Old Trafford this season.