Van Dijk rubs salt in Man Utd's wounds after transfer snub

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • 25 Sep 2022 08:30 BST
  • 3 min read
FT Desk 25 Sep 2022 08:30 BST 3 min read
Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool, 2022/23

Jurrien Timber rejected a move to Manchester United in the summer, and now Liverpool lynchpin Virgil van Dijk says the Ajax youngster is better than he was at the same age.

United were interested in 21-year-old centre-back Timber this summer, but instead shelled out €63.3 million to bring his clubmate Lisandro Martinez to Old Trafford instead.

While Timber shot down reports that former Red Devils manager Louis van Gaal had told him his World Cup place with the Netherlands wouldn't be safe if he made the move, he clearly elected to stay and continue his development at Ajax.

"I think a player of his quality can play in the Premier League," Van Gaal had said at the time. "That's not a problem. If he has to make this big step now, that's the question. It's not so wise I think. He has to play."

High praise

Timber has since started all seven of Ajax's games as they have raced to the top of the Dutch Eredivisie table alongside PSV Eindhoven, and he is in the Netherlands squad - alongside Van Dijk - for their UEFA Nations League meetings with Poland and Belgium.

The Liverpool stalwart, who captains the Netherlands, was effusive in his praise of Timber when asked about the defender 10 years his junior.

"I wasn't nearly as far along as he is now," Van Dijk said. "I have nothing but praise for him. He's a great player and a true professional. He has so much potential. Hopefully he can develop further. Then he will be alright, I think."

Timber has averaged three blocks as well as seven progressive passes per 90 minutes over the last year, making him a huge asset on both sides of the ball, and he is now ranked at €39 million by Football Transfers' in-house algorithm.