A quickfire one-two punch from Manchester United has brought them back into the transfer game. After spending a terribly quiet June, the Red Devils have made two signings in the opening week of July.
Tyrell Malacia arrived from Feyenoord to beef up the defence, before the big fish. Christian Eriksen has joined on a free transfer after his contract expired with Brentford. The former Spurs hero was in talks with a few clubs, before eventually joining United.
This transfer is all the more important given a slew of departures in the midfield department. How will the Danish magician fare at Old Trafford? Can he form a partnership with Bruno Fernandes? FootTheBall answers the most burning questions surrounding this move.
Christian Eriksen playing style and analysis
One of the most important puzzles will be how to fit Eriksen in the lineup. Erik ten Hag lined up Ajax in a 4-3-1-2 or 4-1-2-1-2 formation. That would mean Bruno Fernandes in the number 10 role, with Eriksen behind him in the three-man midfield. It is a role that he has played in with Brentford.
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The Bees deployed a 3-5-2, and Eriksen was one of the most more advanced midfielders. Will United offer him the same freedom? It depends. If Erik ten Hag does go for a midfield four of Fernandes, Eriksen, Fred, and Scott McTominay, then the 30-year-old would be an advanced midfielder.
🔎 | FOCUS
Despite not playing in the EPL between Jan 2020 and Feb 2022, Christian Eriksen still ranks in the top 5 in these categories across the last 7 seasons:
🅰️ 56 assists (2nd)
🎁 62 big chances created (5th)
🔑 456 key passes (2nd)
Coming soon to Manchester United. 🇩🇰 pic.twitter.com/G9gi313AXW
— SofaScore (@SofaScoreINT) July 4, 2022
However, it could also be very likely that Eriksen starts from the bench for some matches. Donny Van de Beek struggled for game time, before eventually heading out on loan. Of course, him and Eriksen have had different careers, but they play almost the same position.
Eriksen will not be expected to contribute defensively, meaning the midfield double pivot will be same old. However, if the Fred and McTominay duo cannot get it done, Eriksen will have to halt his advances.
Christian Eriksen stats
Eriksen did not play in the first half of the 2021-22 season after collapsing with a heart problem at Euro 2020. He joined Brentford in January 2022, and had a sparkling run of form. Eriksen featured 11 times in the Premier League, racking up a goal and four assists.
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However, it was his overall impact on the offensive end that really turned heads. According to FBref, Eriksen took 2.11 shots per 90, placing him in the 97th percentile of players across Europe. Moreover, he was involved in 5.08 shot-creating actions per 90 which put him in the 99th percentile of players.
Therefore, it is clear that Eriksen has not lost his magical touch or his ability to turn games. Additionally, he averaged 6.23 progressive passes per 90, showing him as a quick turner of the ball from defence to attack. He will certainly increase United’s urgency in offense.
Christian Eriksen transfer fee- Value for money?
Hell yes! Getting a player with more than 600 matches under his belt for club and country for free is an incredible coup. John Murtough definitely gets his fair share of credit for pulling off a great move.
Though there were fears of him not joining, the deal was eventually done. A three-year contract for a player who is 30-years-old is a very smart move. It allows United to return to the UEFA Champions League in the short term, alongside building for the future.
Christian Eriksen is one of only two players to provided 10+ assists in four consecutive Premier League seasons.
The other one is #MUFC legend David Beckham.
Not in bad company, eh 😉 @ChrisEriksen8 pic.twitter.com/Frosl9QX3i
— Stretford Paddock (@StretfordPaddck) July 6, 2022
There are some incredible gems in the youth academy, including the likes of James Garner, Charlie McNeill, and Hannibal Mejbri, among others.
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Eriksen will be a great mentor to many of the players, alongside bringing in his wealth of experience. United are getting a levelheaded player, who does his talking on the pitch.
Eriksen’s former club made the Champions League in 2021-22, and he would want his new team to do the same in 2023.
Christian Eriksen potential fit and expectations
As mentioned above, there are a couple of roles where Eriksen could excel. Bruno Fernandes will continue as the starter in the number 10 position. That leaves Eriksen as the next most advanced midfielder. Erik ten Hag will not use the 4-2-3-1, because playing Eriksen on the wing is just not feasible.
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Moreover, he will also not be a good defensive cover. The only way to accommodate him on a regular basis to change the formation. Ten Hag was heavily in favour of recruiting Eriksen, and the Ajax roots helped matters.
The pair understand the philosophy of what needs to be done and this combination could end up being extremely fruitful for United. The club is shying away from glitzy names, in favour of hard working talents who can truly lift the side up.