Dutch legend Jaap Stam believes Jurrien Timber has all the attributes to become an ‘exceptional player’ under Mikel Arteta at Arsenal.
Timber spent the day at Arsenal’s training ground on Friday after the Gunners and Ajax agreed a deal for the 22-year-old defender which will see the north London club pay €40 million (£34.2m) with a further €5m (£4.2m) in add-ons.
It’s another exciting addition to Arteta’s squad, following the capture of Kai Havertz from Chelsea and the imminent arrival of Declan Rice from West Ham in a club record £105m deal.
And, speaking exclusively to charleswatts.football, Stam is adamant his fellow countryman has what it takes to make a major impact in the Premier League.
“He’s a very good player,” said Stam, who was coach at Jong Ajax while Timber was progressing through the academy. “In Holland he’s been doing very well. This season due to circumstances he was not as impressive as last season, but you could still see the quality there.
“He’s very comfortable on the ball and he can create that extra man in midfield by carrying the ball forward. He’s very good in his positioning as well, his passing is very accurate and he has good technique. That’s the type of player that we all like in Holland.
“When you are a Dutch player and you have grown in a Dutch academy then people expect a lot from you, even when you are a defender in terms of carrying the ball. He’s quick. He can play as a centre-back and as a right-back as well, so he’s very versatile.
“When he plays with better players he can be an exceptional player”
“He’s a very good player that we all like in Holland. So for him, making that step to Arsenal is a very positive one. And when I look at Arsenal, I see a team where all the players are very comfortable and very dominant on the ball as well so I think he can be very successful in doing that for them.”
Stam added: “We all know the ability he has on the ball. At Ajax we can all talk about his performances last season, but he was still one of the best players. He was almost the only one who took the initiative, who showed quality.
“The other players all found it very difficult to show their ability and that’s why for him it’s good to make this step because the players around him at Arsenal are much better, will show more quality and take up better positions in small areas so he can be more decisive with his passing.
“He’s shown when he plays with better players around him that he can be an exceptional player.”
Timber broke through into the first-team at Ajax as a 19-year-old, making his debut under Erik ten Hag in 2020.
He has gone on to make more than 100 appearances for the Dutch giants, winning two Eredivisie titles along the way and earning 15 caps for the national team.
He had predominantly played as a right-sided centre-back for club and country, but has also operated at right-back – the position it is understood Arteta has earmarked for him at Arsenal.
There have been some doubts raised about how he will cope with the physical demands of the Premier League, especially when it comes to aerial battles, but Stam does not believe that will be an issue.
“I don’t think you need to worry about that,” he said. “When you follow Arsenal you need to look at the philosophy of how they play and what their strengths are.
“When you bring in a player you are looking with your team to be very dominant. When you are dominant and play in the opposition half and stay patient, you eventually find an opening to score.
“It means you don’t have to defend a lot. Of course we know, especially in the Premier League, you get into situations when you need to defend but you calculate that as a manager in how you want to play.
“Timber is not the biggest, but you need to be clever at times in your duels and one v ones in how you approach them. There are other players who last season came into the Premier League who are not the biggest and did very well. So I don’t think it’s a worry.”
Stam added: “The coaches will tell him what to expect and how to approach games. He might need to change certain things to be even more successful and not get done in certain situations.
“That’s the thing for a young player to address when you are stepping into a big club like Arsenal. He’s a clever guy, so he knows that and he will step up to that.
“The most important thing for fans to know is he is good on the ball, he can defend, he’s got pace and his positioning is good. He knows what to do, he knows how to win a challenge. So I wouldn’t worry too much about that.”