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Christian Eriksen arrived at Tottenham as one of the most exciting young players in world football for £11 million in 2013. He had hit a ceiling at Ajax after 163 appearances, including 32 goals and 65 assists.
A move to a top league was inevitable. Eriksen was seen as the next off the Ajax production line, and it was a coup of sorts when Tottenham managed to lure him to White Hart Lane.
The £11 million fee was decent value then, even if it looks absurdly low now.
The Dane has flourished at Spurs. Mauricio Pochettino has brought the best out of so many young players during his tenure in north London, but Eriksen’s ascension is sometimes forgotten amidst the more romantic tales of Harry Kane and Dele Alli.
Taking Eriksen from talented 22-year-old to the player he is today is an achievement itself. So often players plateau from their late teens or early twenties and never flourish into a top-level, regular starter. Eriksen has been improving, albeit without the same dramatic breakout season that others have, year on year.
His versatility is what is most striking.
Spurs’ midfield injuries this season have seen the Dane required to play deeper, sometimes having to drop close to his own defence to receive the ball and build-up. At times, Eriksen has played as an orthodox central midfielder in a pairing. And, crucially, has not been found wanting defensively.
This has required discipline and positional awareness off the ball seldom associated with creators. What is equally impressive is how he switches from central midfielder to roaming attacking force game to game, or in some cases, within a match.
When given freedom with two midfielders behind, Eriksen is as good as any creative force in the league. He is sensible with his shooting despite his prowess from range. He has the ruthless combination of vision and exceptional talent to execute.
Then there’s his two-footedness, which is an ever-undervalued trait for any footballer, but particularly one so often operating in the opposition’s final third.
Amidst the adjustment of his roles, there are the different versions of Eriksen.
There’s the leader of the supporting cast who we see regularly for Spurs when Kane and Heung-min Son are in full flow. Then there’s the player that takes charge for Denmark and dominates games. The second edition is rarer in a Spurs shirt, but we get the occasional sign of Eriksen’s ability to seize control of a match when Kane is absent.
Eriksen is not recording the gaudy assist numbers of Kevin de Bruyne this season or like Mesut Ozil has in past seasons, but he every bit belongs in that group. The Dane gives his manager flexibility and looks like he could find a role for himself in any team in the world.
Eriksen is no highlight reel showman. He is, though, a wonderful footballer, who is edging towards the sky-high potential everyone saw when he was playing in Amsterdam.
Written by Sam Cox
Follow Sam on Twitter @SamRCox_
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