Manchester United have made an offer to sign Christian Eriksen, who is a free agent after an impressive half-season at Brentford.
Through spells at Ajax, Tottenham Hotspur, Inter and Brentford, Eriksen was one more thandynamic passers and creators in Europe, and if United succeed in acquiring the Danish midfielder, it would go some way to replacing the progressive assist that Paul Pogba brought to the team.
Where Bruno Fernandes is an unorthodox playmaker with a ‘high risk, high reward’ passing profile, Eriksen is a more calm and creative player, able to generate goal-scoring opportunities for his teammates while valuing possession .
Should he become a United player, Eriksen could operate from the left of a 4-2-3-1 system – one of Erik ten Hag’s favorite formations – with Fernandes operating as a No.10 Having two playmakers in a squad at the same time could in theory allow United to keep the attacking pressure on longer, helping to fuel Cristiano Ronaldo (and Marcus Rashford, should he wish to play as a striker). central).
The unusual nature of the upcoming 2022-23 season likely fuels any interest United may have in Eriksen as well. Premier League clubs must play 16 fixtures before stopping for the World Cup break on November 14 and United will also have a number of Europa League and Carabao Cup games to play before football breaks. club for this winter’s tournament in Qatar.
The attacking midfielder is not an immediate need for United this summer, but to ensure that a player as talented as Eriksen, who returned to top-flight football after suffering cardiac arrest while playing for Denmark at Euro 2020, sharing minutes with others might help. they better navigate a claustrophobic first half of the season.
Eriksen’s age and playing career also matches previous deals Ten Hag authorized during his time in charge of Ajax. In 2019, he cited the “experience” that Daley Blind and Dusan Tadic brought to his usually youthful side. Ten Hag has already had the chance to see Eriksen’s current style of play up close as the Dane spent time in early January 2022 training with the Ajax youth team.
Ten Hag could use Fernandes as United’s main attacking catalyst, with Eriksen able to replace the No.10 or collaborate from afar. Eriksen’s arrival would raise further questions over the future of Donny van de Beek: a completely different kind of No.10 who favors running off the ball over assists, but after a 2021-22 season where United struggled to score goals, one can see the appeal of a short-term deal.
The 30-year-old is understandably not the constantly running attacking midfielder he was during his peak from 2015 to 2017 (on more than one occasion for Spurs, Eriksen would finish a game after running 13km ) but he is still an assiduous player when out of possession and he presses opponents intelligently in order to win the ball.
Last season, only Kevin De Bruyne and Martin Odegaard created more Premier League chances than Eriksen after making his debut for Brentford in February.
Thomas Frank’s side have won seven of the 11 Premier League games Eriksen has appeared in, including encounters against Chelsea and West Ham. He is an attacking midfielder “on the ground”, capable of improving defective teams and pushing good teams to greatness.
Barcelona should have pushed to sign Eriksen over Philippe Coutinho in 2018 and in 2022 Manchester United are said to be one of many suitors for his signature. In the player’s own words, there are “different offers and options” his team are considering, and Champions League football “is not essential” to his future as a player.
The conversation linking him to Tottenham Hotspur, where he would play again with Antonio Conte, also makes a lot of sense.
Strangely for United, it would have made more sense for the club to try and snap up the Danish playmaker in the summer of 2016 (perhaps in place of Henrikh Mkhitaryan), rather than now.
At a time when the top four rivals are preparing for the future, United appear relatively dormant and a move for Eriksen would be a good short- to medium-term solution to a problem that mostly seemed resolved when Fernandes signed a new long-term contract. term. – fixed-term contract with the club in April. This summer represents a crucial opportunity for course correction at United.
The departures of Edinson Cavani, Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic – among others and all as free agents – have left an unbalanced and underperforming team in a vulnerable position.
Ten Hag will aspire to qualify for the Champions League, but West Ham and Leicester City have more talented players in defensive midfield and Newcastle appear to be planning a position in the first half of the Premier League on pace. The downward spiral that has marked much of United’s 2021-22 season can be halted this summer with clever player swaps (both out and in). United desperately need reinforcements and improvements to their defensive midfield abilities.
They are likely to need a striker to ease Ronaldo’s burden and if Jadon Sancho is to play to his true potential on the right flank, then an attacking-minded full-back should be on the shopping list. The club’s ongoing pursuit of Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona is another promising transfer, but one that doesn’t quite solve the problems. The Ten Hag era began by targeting good players, but none of Ajax’s academy graduates solve United’s most troubling problems on the pitch.
‘Eriksen to United’ is a move that fits with much of the club’s business since Sir Alex Ferguson retired – the acquisition of a player who previously would have solved a problem for United and several seasons past his prime.
Eriksen is a good player who would improve a number of clubs in Europe. It is much more difficult to determine whether this club can be Manchester United.
(Top photo: Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)