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Ten Hag eyeing summer swoop for “exceptional” 5ft10 rock, he could be MUFC’s next Stam – opinion

Although the January transfer window is still in full swing, Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag will no doubt be looking ahead to how he can strengthen his charges during the summer.

Recent reports have suggested the 52-year-old will once again by looking to the Dutch market in order to bolster his squad, having already signed the likes of Tyrell Malacia, Antony and Lisandro Martinez from the Eredivisie last year.

The suggestion is that the former Ajax boss could be looking to secure another reunion by bringing promising centre-back, Jurrien Timber to Old Trafford, with the Red Devils having reportedly been in talks regarding a move for the Netherlands international in the previous window.

The highly-rated 21-year-old – who was valued at around £43m at the time – ultimately opted to stay put and sign a contract extension in Amsterdam, although transfer insider Dean Jones has told GIVEMESPORT that a move could again be on the cards at the end of the season.

The journalist stated: “It’s definitely got to be a possibility. You look at the [Victor] Lindelöf and [Harry] Maguire situations. It’s pretty likely one of those two leaves, at least.”

The up-and-coming defender has caught the eye as a result of his standout form in the Netherlands of late, having particularly impressed with his quality in possession.

The 14-cap rock notably ranks in the top 1% for progressive passes and the top 3% for both dribbles completed and pass completion among those in his position in the ‘Men’s next eight competitions’, as per FBref, illustrating just how comfortable he is when playing out from the back.

The 5 foot 10 brute is no slouch defensively, however, as he averages 1.1 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game from his 17 league outings this season, having also earned praise from compatriot Virgil van Dijk, who stated last year:

“I wasn’t nearly as far along as he is now (at the same age). I have nothing but praise for him. He is a great player and a true professional.”

As for as United are concerned, the hope will be that Timber can emulate another Dutchman to have starred at the heart of the club’s backline in the form of Jaap Stam, with the commanding asset arriving in England in the summer of 1998.

Like Timber, the now-retired titan had been plying his trade in his homeland prior to joining the Red Devils, having spent two years on the books at another Dutch giant, PSV Eindhoven.

The tough-tackling powerhouse made a smooth transition to life at the Theatre of Dreams, going on to play a vital role in the treble success in the 1998/99 campaign, while winning the league title in each of three full seasons at the club.

Having subsequently – and surprisingly – been moved on to Lazio in the summer of 2001, Sir Alex Ferguson later admitted that he had made a “bad decision” in letting the 6 foot 3 ace depart, with Stam continuing to thrive in Italy after his exit.

Such was his impact in England, the one-time AC Milan man made a notable impression on his teammates and earned particular praise for his remarkable recovery speed, as Teddy Sheringham described him as being “as quick as a Ferrari“, while Nicky Butt lauded him as “an awesome defender with great recovery pace, strength and physique.”

Although young Timber may not be able to match the imposing presence of his compatriot, he too has also been praised for his breathtaking pace in the backline, with talent scout Jacek Kulig stating:

“Not the tallest defender but his understanding of the game, anticipation, pace and ball skills are exceptional.”

If the Utrecht-born menace can go on to emulate Stam, then Ten Hag and co should be in for a real treat.

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