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Christian Eriksen: Scout Report

Eriksen

Christian Eriksen has always been named as one of the biggest talents in his age group around Europe. Ever since Denmark knew they had another gem on their hands he has been compared to Danish legend and current Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup. Christian Eriksen was the equivalent of Danish hope. With him, the golden time of 1992 would be relived.

Profile

Christian Dannemann Eriksen was born on Valentines Day, 1992. He started playing football at the age of three at local club Middelfart Sanderum before joining Odense BK, a club that competed in the Danish youth championships.

Eriksen has been raised in a footballing family. Both his parents played the game and also his little sister enjoys a game of football. From the start Eriksen oozed talent.  After some good performances for Odense BK’s U-16 team and later on U-19 team and the Danish U-17 team, major European football clubs including Chelsea and Barcelona began to take notice.The player had trials with Barcelona, Chelsea, and AC Milan but when Ajax showed interest it was ultimately an easy decision for the 16-year old Dane. He 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”.  On 17 October 2008 it was announced that Eriksen had signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Ajax. The transfer fee received by Odense BK was estimated at €1 million. Eriksen started for the U17’s but joined the U19’s at the end of his first season and started to train with the first team.

He joined the first team in January 2010 and made his debut on January 17 against NAC Breda. Former Ajax manager Martin Jol compared him to the likes of Ajax youth products Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart and described him as a good reader of the game in the traditional “number 10” role like the two Dutch internationals.  In April 2010, Eriksen extended his contract with Ajax until June 2014, stating: “I can still learn a lot here, I’m not finished yet and I hope I can mean a lot for the club.” At the end of his first professional season at Ajax, Eriksen had played 21 competitive matches and has made his debut for the Danish national team.

The 2010-11 season was the one of Eriksen’s breakthrough. The Dane became more and more important for Ajax during the season in which he developed himself into an undisputed starter in the side that won Ajax’s first Eredivisie title in seven years. As a reward he was named both Ajax’s and Dutch Talent of the Year. Johan Cruyff praised him: “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. He is a typical product of the Danish school. You can compare him with Brian and Michael Laudrup. Only time will tell if Eriksen can reach the same level as them.”

He has been a rising star ever since and he has played a big part in Ajax’s two following championship. The 21-year-old Dane’s contract expires in June next year.

Style, Strengths and Weaknesses

As said, Christian Eriksen has always been compared to Danish legend Michael Laudrup. He sure has comparisons with the current Swansea manager. Eriksen is a joy to watch, he has a fluidity and style in his actions combined with superb technical ability. Physically he’s light but he compensates for this with his speed, technique and excellent positioning. The Ajax number 8 has a good right foot, crosses the ball well and can play decisive passes that can open up a defence. For someone who’s only 21 years old, he has a remarkable insight and vision of the game. His actions look simple due to his instinctive natural qualities.

Eriksen possesses a brilliant sense of timing on the ball, and he can bring those around him into the game very well. Moreover, his attacking strengths make him a very potent weapon in the middle of the field.

Someone asked him back in 2010 once what his dream is. Christian’s answer: ‘winning the championship with Ajax’. He didn’t mention his dream club, winning the Champions League or winning the World Cup.  Despite interest from other clubs, he showed his commitment to the club to lengthen his deal to 2014. He has said that only when he has fully learned his trade and become a top player at Ajax then maybe he will consider moving abroad. The question is: has he?

It’s for sure that Eriksen has improved himself in the five seasons he’s been playing for Ajax but there’s one thing that remains: his lack of goalscoring prowess. Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder, to whom he has been compared during his days at Ajax, were two players who started banging in goals after being settled in Ajax’s first team. Despite that, he’s been involved in most goals under Frank de Boer. He was involved in most goals in both the Eredivisie (10 goals and 13 assists) and Champions League (1 goals, six assists) last season.

Another criticism that Eriksen has received is that he only steps up in the so called big games against Holland’s top clubs and Champions League sides. Of course it’s easier to motivate yourself for those games but if you want to become a top player you should also be decisive against the ‘smaller’ clubs. Eriksen knows that’s something he has to improve on and since the winter break he’s been doing so.

Another factor that might work against him is the fact he is a bit lightweight. Being 5 foot 9 and 71 kilograms it means Eriksen isn’t the strongest physically. He won’t win you challenges but his excellent technique and positioning compensates for the lack of physical strength.

Quotes

“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. He is a typical product of the Danish school. You can compare him with Brian and Michael Laudrup. Only time will tell if Eriksen can reach the same level as them.”

— Johan Cruyff, Dutch football legend, via ESPNFC.com

“He’s a good player – a typical Ajax player who is good on the ball – but we already knew that.”

—Sir Alex Ferguson, ex-Manchester United manager, quoted by ESPNFC.com (via TV3+)

Transfer Situation

I feel he could do with another season in the Eredivisie but that seems unlikely. Ajax coach Frank de Boer said he doesn’t gain more hope Eriksen will stay for another season because there seems to be a lack of interest. On the other hand, turning down Manchester City (last year), Zenit St. Petersburg (January) and Bayer Leverkusen means he won’t leave Ajax for any club. The 21-year-old doesn’t care about money. Only one criteria counts: sporting reasons.

If Eriksen won’t find his ‘dream club’ this summer, he’ll sign a contract extension at Ajax. He has reached a verbal agreement with Ajax over this. There is no urgent need for him to leave Ajax and Amsterdam. He’ll happily stay for another season.

He’ll only stay and renew his contract if there won’t be a club interest in him which he’d like to join. Right now, Liverpool look favourites to sign the young Dane. It would be a side he would consider to join. His coach Frank de Boer would advise Eriksen not to join the English side. “If they play as they do now, I wouldn’t go”, De Boer said. “The playing style would not suit his own. But ultimately, it is for Chris himself to decide.”

UPDATE: Christian Eriksen joined Tottenham Hotspur.

This piece was written by Babette van Haaren. Follow her on twitter @BabettevHaaren

Click here to view our other Scout Reports

View Cristian Eriksen’s SoccerWiki profile

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