The player Jurrien Timber could jettison from the Arsenal starting eleven has been revealed, with TEAMtalk also exclusively learning how Mikel Arteta plans to “dominate” games with the Dutchman.
The Gunners are splashing the cash this summer, with Jurrien Timber and Declan Rice set to follow Kai Havertz into the Emirates. Timber will sign a five-year deal running until 2028 and will set Arsenal back £38.5m (including add-ons).
Both Timber and Rice will undergo medicals today (Friday), and TEAMtalk has been told how Arteta plans to utilise the ultra-versatile Timber.
Aged 22, the Netherlands international has his best years ahead, though according to Arsenal insider Charles Watts, Timber is primed to make an instant impact.
Whose place Timber could take has been revealed, while Watts also stressed the Dutchman made it crystal clear it was Arsenal and Arsenal only if leaving Ajax this summer.
“From what I understand from people who were pretty close to him, he is so excited about Arsenal,” revealed Watts.
“It’s always only been Arsenal for him this summer. It’s just been a case of the clubs agreeing the fee and Ajax have held out for as much as they can get. Everyone’s happy with the deal.
“Arsenal are getting a very, very exciting player in Timber who potentially could have as big of an impact on them this coming season as Zinchenko had last season.”
Timber will put the heat on Ben White
Explaining why Arteta has pushed for the Dutch international so strongly, and why Ben White should be looking over his shoulder, Watts added: “I think they wanted a more inverted type full back there.
“Ben White has been brilliant, he’s been one of Arsenal’s best players over the last couple of years. He was excellent last season and that link up he and [Bukayo] Saka had down the right-hand side was so integral to Arsenal’s success.
“But White was very much in the mould of the old-school right back even though he’s a centre back. He was on the overlap all the time, always getting beyond Saka.
“I think Timber is going to give them another option in terms of coming inside. He’s so good on the ball. There’s very few better young defenders when it comes to passing in European football and Timber ticks all the boxes for Arteta in that regard.
“His age, his versatility – which is so essential – and they see that with him and Zinchenko playing, they could really get a stranglehold on games in the central areas and absolutely dominate the midfield.
“You have those two alongside Rice at times sort of dropping in. And if those two go forward, then you can have Rice dropping back and play with three men in the centre backs to provide a little bit of extra cover if the full-backs go bombing forward, which is what Zinchenko does. I think Timber will do the same.”
Arsenal mirroring Man City with Timber, Havertz captures
But while Watts is of the view White is the player most at risk, the Arsenal insider stressed he will not be frozen out completely.
“I don’t think it’s the end of Ben White by any means,” continued Watts. “He’s going to be really important next season.
“I think this is just another option for Arteta. Arsenal’s focus in this transfer window is not necessarily about improving the starting XI because the starting XI was great last year.
“It’s been about improving the first 16, 17, 18 players in the squad and being able to give Arteta the option to switch things around and become unpredictable.
“I think he wants to go into a Saturday without anyone knowing what team Arsenal are going to pick. And last season it was obvious; everyone knew what team they were going to pick.
“One of Man City’s great strengths is you’ve not really got a clue what Pep’s going to do week in week out because everyone’s at such a similar level you can change players, bring players in and the level doesn’t drop.
“For Arsenal, it dropped massively when they did that. The focus in this transfer window has been to ensure that doesn’t happen this coming season.
“Timber, obviously Rice is huge, Havertz as well, it’s just adding to that. The defensive options available to Arteta are really, really strong even if a couple players do go out, which we expect they will, in [Rob] Holding and probably [Kieran] Tierney.”