Holland star Jurrien Timber told he can stop Messi as Man Utd watch on

World Cup 2022 briefing: Day 18

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Lionel Messi has been warned that there is one player at the World Cup who is able to stop the Paris Saint-Germain man after an impressive tournament so far. The 35-year-old has led Argentina to the quarter-finals with three goals in the competition, and next will face Netherlands for a place in the final four.

Dutch legend Marco van Basten believes that the best way to stop Messi is by man-marking him throughout the game, and he claims that one Holland defender could do the job. “If we have a player who can man-mark Messi 90 minutes long, we have to do it,” Van Basten told NPO. “Italy did it too with [Diego] Maradona. Without Messi, Argentina is a lot less. [Jurrien] Timber might be able to do it.”

Timber came into Louis van Gaal’s team after the opening group stage game, when the boss initially preferred Matthijs De Ligt on the right side of his three-man defence. The Ajax man has been more suited to the role alongside Virgil van Dijk and Nathan Ake however, and is expected to continue in the role against Argentina.

The Manchester City defender is likely to have more of a battle with Messi should Van Gaal opt against man-marking the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, though Manchester United will have a keen interest in the game as they previously have attempted to sign Timber.

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Erik ten Hag looked to his former employers Ajax in the summer transfer window in an effort to bolster his squad at Old Trafford, as he brought Lisandro Martinez and Antony with him to the club. Timber at one stage looked to be another Ajax player on their way to United, but signed a new contract at the Eredivisie club instead.

Van Gaal was asked in the summer whether a move to United for Timber would make sense, but the ex-United boss shot down the idea. “I think a player of his quality can play in the Premier League,” Van Gaal claimed. “That is not a problem. If he has to make this big step now, that’s the question. It is not so wise I think [to move to United]. He has to play.”

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Timber then went on to reject United’s interest, but he claimed that Van Gaal’s comments did not influence his decision to remain at Ajax. “Many things that are written in the media are false,” he told Dutch outlet AD.

“Like when people say that it was Louis van Gaal who told me not to go to Manchester United. He actually said I would make minutes there.”

United may still be interested in bringing Timber to the club after a successful World Cup, as the defender can also play at right-back and the club’s current options in that role are Diogo Dalot, who is out of contract at the end of the season, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka who looks set to leave in January.

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