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Christian Eriksen: The sole success of Tottenham’s ‘Magnificent Seven’

January 16, 2019

WHEN Gareth Bale was sold to Real Madrid in 2013, Tottenham fans pondered who the club would sign to ease his departure. Rather than focus on a specific area, the north London side spent heavily to add depth to the squad in the process, making additions that many felt would push them to Champions League regulars. While Bale routinely won points on his own due to a series of wonderful strikes, supporters were still confident coming into the campaign.

Roberto Soldado joined on the back of a 24-goal season in Spain, while Paulinho was dubbed the Brazilian Frank Lampard. Vlad Chiriches, Etienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli, Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen made up the bulk of the signings, deemed the ‘Magnificent Seven’ at the time. Over five years on, and Lamela and Eriksen are the surviving members of the troop. Lamela’s time at the club has been riddled with criticism and injury, yet even so; he remains a key member of Mauricio Pochettino’s squad.

It’s Eriksen, though, who has been the primary success of those seven signed earlier this decade. Before Pochettino got his hands on the great Dane, he was considered an almost-player, one who had the ability to take his game to the next level, but could never really harness that potential. Under the Argentine, though, Eriksen has become the lynchpin of this Spurs side. Yes, he may have his off days, but by and large; the 26-year-old is one of the club’s most important players.

Indeed, since Pochettino took charge of Tottenham in 2014, Eriksen has made more key passes (441) than any other Premier League player, as per WhoScored.com. Yet, supporters were more than familiar with his creative talent and it was a key reason why he was signed in 2013. Rather, the managerial quality to make Eriksen much more than a conventional number 10 has propelled the player into one of the finest in Europe.

Against Manchester United on Sunday, for example, only Dele Alli (12.32km) covered more ground than Eriksen (12.29km), this coming despite Spurs enjoying 61.2% possession. On another day, and with a bit more composure in front of goal, the north London side would have come away with all three points rather than ruing missed chances against an inspired David De Gea. You only have to look at the stats to reinforce the type of midfielder Eriksen has become to appreciate Pochettino’s willingness to develop a player.

Since his appointment, only Nemanja Matic (692), a holding midfielder by trade, has won possession in the midfield third more times than Eriksen (575). Over the same period, he’s won possession in the attacking third the fifth most times (103), as per WhoScored.com. He’s since become the perfect blend of a number 8 and a number 10, and one with an ability to play out wide where necessary. The relationship he has with the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min has made Spurs one of the most exciting teams in the Premier League and Eriksen is the glue that holds the team together.

And with less than 18 months to run on his current deal, Spurs are beginning to worry themselves that Eriksen will leave before too long. The club are desperate for the Denmark international to put pen to paper on a new deal with the capital outfit, but contract negotiations remain at an impasse. It’s believed Eriksen’s decision over his next move won’t be financially motivated, but rather by a quest to land winners’ medals. With the player approaching the peak of his career, he’ll be keen to win trophies before his time at the top level draws to a close.

Spurs may still be in the running for the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, but the player’s frustration at his current team being a nearly club will no doubt weigh on Eriksen’s mind, whose talent deserves better than finishing second or third with each passing season. His exit would be a bitter pill to swallow for supporters, similar to that of Luka Madrid and Bale, who departed for Real Madrid in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

It could even prove to be that Spurs cash in this summer rather than lose him on a free in 2020 and may well be that fans are witnessing the beginning of the end of one of the poster boys of Pochettino’s Spurs revolution. With Real Madrid and Barcelona both monitoring Eriksen closely, Spurs will find it increasingly difficult to convince the player to stay, even with regular Champions League action and the new stadium awaiting the team. His exit, then, should it come to pass this summer, will be difficult to witness and the challenge next would be to bring in a replacement that can operate in any number of midfield roles and adopt the same workmanlike mentality of Eriksen.

With Kane out until March now and Son on international duty, there will be a greater onus on Eriksen to grab games by the scruff of the neck and dictate the tempo in both the midfield and final third. That being said, supporters have borne witness to Eriksen and his destructive qualities when he is on song on more than one occasion and the added pressure will only serves as a boost for a player who has ice running through his veins.

Should Spurs fail to convince him to extend his stay in London, at least supporters can take solace in witnessing a player grow into the world class talent he is today and trust in the coaching staff to at least come close to signing a superstar capable of coming close to replicating his threat because, as fans may testify to; there are none better than Eriksen in the Premier League on his day.