Arsenal are edging ever closer to signing Ajax defender Jurrien Timber.

As reported by the Evening Standard, Arsenal have agreed a fee of £38.5 million with the Dutch giants in exchange for the services of Jurrien Timber. The player is now set to undergo his medical with the North London club ahead of his move being finalised.

This signing represents a major coup for the Gunners, to go alongside the capture of Kai Havertz from Chelsea and the upcoming arrival of West Ham captain Declan Rice for a club record fee.

Timber is one of the most exciting defenders in Europe, and his presence in Arteta’s squad opens up a number of intriguing tactical options for the Spanish coach.

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Timber’s tactical impact

The 22-year-old seems most likely to feature at right-back at the Emirates Stadium. Though his versatility does make him a viable centre-back option. Ben White made the right-back spot his own with some impressive performances last season, and now faces stiff competition for his starting berth. However, Timber would offer a different interpretation of the role.

On the left hand side of defence, Oleksandr Zinchenko played an inverted role for Arsenal last season to great effect. The Ukrainian habitually drifted inside to become an auxiliary midfielder whilst Arteta’s side were building up play. Timber can do something very similar on the opposite flank, whereas White represents a more traditional full-back.

Zinchenko and Timber may play these inverted full-back roles simultaneously, but it seems more likely that Arteta will opt for one player or the other for any given match. Timber in the starting eleven could mean Zinchenko and White are dropped to the bench, or perhaps Arteta has something else in mind.

White has played at the base of midfield before for Brighton and Leeds United. He could provide competition for the ageing Jorginho and Thomas Partey there. Meanwhile, with Granit Xhaka set to leave the club, Zinchenko may be earmarked for a more attacking role in the advanced, ‘left-eight’ position the Swiss midfielder made his own. 

Havertz is likely to be the regular starter there, but Zinchenko was an attacking midfielder before he was converted to left-back at Manchester City and still plays in the middle of the park for his country. He would offer more defensive nous in that area than Havertz, whilst still maintaining creative influence. In the meantime, Timber would be playing the inverted full-back role on the right, and a more traditional left-back such as Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu or Jakub Kiwior could cover for Zinchenko in the back line.

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