The great Johan Cruyff once spoke these words referring to Eriksen, “He’s a player I really like with all my heart. The talent is there, the recognition also; now it is up to the player himself. You can compare him with Brian and Michael Laudrup (previous successful Danish footballers). Only time will tell if Eriksen can reach the same level as them”. Cruyff’s opinion is held by many with high esteem and rightly so; but in this instance it is bordering on unnecessary in determining Eriksen’s talent and capabilities.
Upon viewing Eriksen on the field of play this is instantly obvious and it is why at the age of 21 he is rated among the best midfield prospects in Europe and why he is almost guaranteed to be one of the hottest targets in the upcoming transfer window.
The Danish AFC Ajax star has recently informed the club that he will not be extending his contract with the Dutch giants creating an inevitable surge of rumours regarding his future. Liverpool, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund are just a select pick from a large array of clubs that have been linked with the former Danish Football Player of the Year.
Back in 2008 Eriksen moved to AFC Ajax from Danish club Odense Boldklub, upon making the switch Eriksen stated, “My first step should not be too big. I knew that playing in the Netherlands would be very good for my development. Then Ajax arrived and that was a fantastic option”. These words suggest that this summer the player feels his second and next career step is to move onto a bigger league, with bigger prizes and most certainly bigger wages.
As leagues compare in competitiveness and worldwide appeal the Barclays Premier league stands alone and therefore a move to Liverpool or Tottenham remains possible. However, with Eriksen almost guaranteed Champions League football every season in Amsterdam the question of whether a transfer to either of these clubs would be a step forward is seriously challenged.
With Liverpool he is no doubt moving to the bigger of the three clubs and one of the most influential in the world. But in recent years success has been absent, 2012/13 seems to be ending in disappointment for the club with the controversy surrounding Luis Suarez (an ex teammate to Eriksen) and their short comings in the league resulting in no European football for the next campaign. Having said this they have a young manager in the shape of Brendan Rodgers who has implemented a style of play at Anfield which has the locals excited for the future.
Eriksen fits not only the football philosophy of the club but also the buying strategy of the owners. If he chooses Liverpool as his next destination he will most likely quickly fit in but he will also take a large wage increase to play for a club that has a lot of hope and belief. On the flip side he will also lose out on the attention that surrounds Champions League football. A problem no doubt, but with Liverpool having such a large international fan base it is made somewhat lesser and he will be sure not to fade into the shadows.
Our second contender for the much desired signature is Tottenham Hotspurs who have been great for the past few seasons resulting in an increase in respect but also power throughout European football. With a new stadium on the way and a new manager the next few seasons look promising for the North London club. After a shaky start to his reign André Villas-Boas seems to have turned the current season in Tottenham’s favour (with a little help from Gareth Bale) and now Champions League qualification still remains a serious possibility.
The importance of gaining European qualification cannot be emphasised enough and if they have any hope at all in signing players like Eriksen, unlike Liverpool they must find themselves in 4th spot at the end of the May. Again the question of whether he could win anything at Tottenham will arise and the most likely answer is no which could be the underlining problem. The transfer would certainly be a risk but a good risk and if Eriksen sees this as his middle step towards moving onto a huge club like Barcelona, Manchester United or Real Madrid later in his career. Tottenham would probably be the perfect matchup.
Another realistic destination is Borussia Dortmund, the much talked about German club that seems intent on returning to the heights of European football. Jürgen Klopp is another young coach who has laid down foundations at the club that are already reaping benefits in domestic and European competitions. As reigning German champions and semi finalists of the Champions League this term they can boast realistic trophy aims for Eriksen if he were to choose Dortmund as his home. Negatives arise when considering whether Dortmund can maintain this level of excellence in the years to come.
The success of the German sides in the Champions League this season will no doubt result in the big players from England, Italy and Spain growing and looking to reclaim their dominance again in the years to come. With their spending powers being much higher, the likelihood of BVB remaining at such heights decreases. Pair this with the departure of Mario Götze to German rivals Bayern Munich and the point becomes an even greater issue.
That being said Eriksen would most likely be a replacement for Götze, both being very technical players with high midfield goal scoring and assist ratios. This would be a challenge but one worthy enough to prove himself adequately on the big stage. A more prominent issue for Dortmund is whether they can hold onto the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels and Marco Reus with the big teams lurking. If not maybe the pull of Dortmund isn’t so great and the English clubs may be more desirable for Eriksen.
Predictions can be incredibly inaccurate; however, these three clubs will have busy summers ahead of them regardless of where Eriksen ends up. To add the Dane to their squad list they will not only have to persuade the player himself, but battle off undeniable interest from footballs richest. For Eriksen; the decision is of utmost importance, it will ultimately define what path his career takes. Was Johan Cruyff right? It is up to the player himself to show us all.
By Jack Curtis Denton