Arsenal are currently close to signing Ajax defender Jurrien Timber and West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice. The duo will have their respective medicals today, and formal announcements could be made in the next 24 hours.

Timber has been one of the best distributors over the past couple of seasons. Last campaign, he made 399 passes in the final third for Ajax, as per Squawka, more than any other central defender in Europe’s top-seven leagues.

The Dutchman can also operate from the right side of the backline, and it will be interesting to see how Mikel Arteta utilises him.

Earlier this year, former Dutch star Wesley Sneijder criticised Timber by saying that he loses every header, and that could be his downfall if he secures a move to the Premier League during the summer.

He told Dutch TV show Veronica Offside: “He’s a smart lad and a really good defender. But he loses every header and in England – against those wardrobes in the Premier League – that will be his downfall.”

However, we clearly don’t accept his opinion. Last season, Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher had a similar outlook on Lisandro Martinez after his big-money move to Manchester United from Amsterdam.

Being the shortest centre-back in the league, Carragher believed he would struggle, but the Argentine proved doubters wrong, winning over 53 per cent of his aerial duels. We believe Timber will do the same.

The Netherlands international is slightly taller than Martinez at 179cm. He won 50 per cent of his aerial challenges last campaign, and we fully expect him to silence his critics next season including Sneijder.

Meanwhile, there has been a notion from some pundits and rival fans that Rice ‘can’t defend’, but statistics clearly show something else.

The England star was not at his best in the UEFA Conference League final where he was outplayed by Sofyan Amrabat, but that was a one-off. The 24-year-old will be aiming to prove his critics wrong at Arsenal.

While Rice has been excellent with his distribution from the centre of the park, he has also been consistent with his defensive game.

Last season, he had a true tackle success rate of 70 per cent, which was the best among a list of 69 strong defensive and central midfielders. In short, Rice often comes on top when he puts a foot in to challenge.

Meanwhile, the Englishman ranks 10th in terms of true interceptions, and has won nearly 60 per cent of his aerial duels. In our view, Rice will be a big upgrade in Arsenal’s midfield for the forthcoming campaigns.

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