As Frenkie de Jong and Manchester United created the transfer saga of the summer, Christian Eriksen slipped into Old Trafford almost unnoticed on a free.
Judging by the 30-year-old Dane’s performances so far, it has all worked out well for Erik ten Hag, and might have saved the Glazers upwards of £70million as well.
Everyone knows Eriksen’s back story. Close to death after suffering a cardiac arrest whilst playing for Denmark during Euro 2020, his career looked over when Inter Milan had to release him in the aftermath because of Serie A rules. Yet to everyone’s joy, he was able to resume playing with his former coach Thomas Frank at Brentford and did so well, United and Tottenham wanted him – with Eriksen eventually turning up in the north-west.
But the Eriksen tale has now gone well beyond his health. Purely as a footballer, he has brought grace and style back to United’s midfield. He has been able to play the Pirlo-style role that Ten Hag wanted from De Jong but is at his best further up the field, dictating play and creating chances in the final third.
Even if De Jong changes his mind about staying with Barcelona, it’s no longer a given United would need him, with Eriksen already bringing technical quality to a team that’s made do with McFred in recent years.
Though still awaiting his first United goal, Eriksen has become a cult hero on the Stretford End. He keeps possession effortlessly but can speed the game up when required with a killer pass, as witnessed with his supply to Jadon Sancho for the opener in an important Europa League win away to FC Sheriff.
- When he missed his first Premier League game against Newcastle on Sunday, the drop in United’s playmaking was evident in a goalless draw. Ten Hag will be keen for him to recover from illness to face his former club Spurs tonight.