Mikel Arteta says everyone at Arsenal has been impressed by Jurrien Timber’s presence around the training ground during the Dutchman’s recovery from a serious knee injury.
Signed from Ajax for close to £38 million in July, the Dutch defender was tipped to bring Zinchenko levels of invertedness to the full-back positions and immediately impressed during his runouts in pre-season.
However, just as excitement was building about the new dimension Timber could bring to Arteta’s team, he was struck a horribly cruel blow; an ACL injury 50 minutes into his Premier League debut on the opening weekend of the season. The 22-year-old had no choice but to undergo surgery and isn’t expected to feature for the Gunners until next season.
Confined to the treatment room and the gym, Timber has still made his presence felt in the corridors at London Colney.
“He’s been brilliant, absolutely brilliant,” said Arteta when quizzed on the defender’s impact.
“You talk to anybody in that building, everybody that gets close to him, and [they’ll tell you] he’s a really special character.
“We were really impressed when we signed him because sometimes when you see the player live in your environment, training and playing, we went, ‘wow, we have an incredible player’.
“But then that player had a big setback and a really difficult moment to go through and he’s been really special in the way he has handled the situation. Really special.”
Arteta wouldn’t commit to a firm answer when asked if the player might get the chance to train on grass again soon.
“Well, I hope so,” he said. “You know, doing what kind of activity of activity is something very different. He’s been for a few walks on the field. That’s still a bit far from competing but he’s in a good place.”
For whatever reason, Arsenal choose not to go into much detail about players’ injuries these days, which leaves a vacuum that’s often filled by speculation by fans and the media. In recent days, a story about the player likely being ruled out of the European Championships has done the rounds as if that was somehow unsurprising.
Given ACL injuries routinely force players onto the sidelines for nine months, it’s wholly realistic that Timber won’t play again for Arsenal this season, at which point his national team clearly won’t be in a position to pick him.
We’d love to be wrong but putting that pressure on the player isn’t very helpful.