Over the years, Ajax’s famed academy has produced talent in both the attacking and defensive departments. Given the nature of the game, the attackers naturally gather more interest than the defenders. Nevertheless, in recent years, defenders such as Toby Alderweireld and Matthijs de Ligt have become known names after securing high-profile moves to Europe’s top leagues. One such defender who has been slowly making his mark in Erik Ten Hag’s backline is Jurrien Timber.
Timber joined Ajax at the age of 13 and rose through the ranks of the academy. He made his senior debut in 2020 in the match against Heerenveen and went on to make 20 appearances last season. Ten Hag has shown his faith in the youngster this season, and the defender has been afforded 20 appearances in the Eredivisie and has been involved in all five of Ajax’s group stage matches.
Ajax’s form in front of the goal this season has also been matched by their resolute defensive performances. In the Eredivisie, Ajax have conceded just two goals in 14 matches. They have also replicated their impressive defensive form in the Champions League group stage as they cruised their way to the knockout round, conceding just three goals along the way. Timber has been a prominent part of the robust defense that has allowed his side to perform at such a high level.
Timber possesses technical ability and awareness that allows him to operate smoothly in Ten Hag’s backline. As a young defender, he has a youthful energy to his game. This season in the Champions League he has ranked highly in multiple defensive stats. He has averaged upward of two recoveries per match, which is impressive for a centre-back. The majority of his defensive stats are above league median value as well. This season he has shown improvements in his tackling.
Ajax’s academy has always focused on producing players with impressive ball-playing ability regardless of the position, and Timber has developed in the same mould. He is comfortable with the ball at his feet and possesses high passing accuracy, which allows Ajax to build up from the back. In addition, he is an adept dribbler of the ball and is capable of escaping the opposition press. His pass map indicates the wide array of passes that he has made this season in the Champions League. Timber’s composure and positioning are also impressive.
Timber’s passing stats in the Champions League have been impressive this season. He is placed ninth in terms of successful passes and has averaged more than 67 successful passes per match.
In terms of accurate passes into the final third, Timber is ranked fifth in the Champions League. He has averaged more than ten accurate passes into the final third as well. This further indicates his ability to support his team in the build-up phases.
Timber has matured into a brilliant centre-back in a short space of time. His performances in Ten Hag’s backline have been brilliant this season. Timber will definitely be counted upon by his side to provide them with the defensive solidity as they march towards the knockout round of the Champions League.