It was only a year ago that hundreds of Inter fans gathered at the club’s headquarters to welcome Christian Eriksen. The signing of the Danish playmaker from Tottenham Hotspur was seen as something of a coup for the Nerazzurri at the time. Eriksen had, after all, seemed destined for one of Spain’s big two, Barcelona or Real Madrid.
2020, however, has been a year to forget for Eriksen. He has struggled to find a role in Antonio Conte’s team, starting just four Serie A games this season. The 28-year-old has reportedly been told he is free to leave the San Siro in January and so speculation now swirls over where he could pitch up next.
A return to the Premier League appears to be on the cards. Arsenal have been mentioned as potential suitors, the logic behind this being Mikel Arteta’s desperation for a creative midfielder. Indeed, Christian Eriksen would certainly be an upgrade on the Gunners’ current options, at least as long as Mesut Ozil remains exiled from the first team.
In Arteta’s 4-2-3-1 system, which was used to great effect in the Boxing Day win over Chelsea, there would be a clear place for Eriksen in the position behind the central striker. The Dane would be supported by a midfield platform of Thomas Partey and one of Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka. There’s good reason to believe Christian Eriksen would succeed as an Arsenal player.
Of course, there would be some controversy regarding Eriksen’s history as a former Spurs player, but this is a divide that has been crossed before. What’s more, the Dane wouldn’t be going directly between the two North London clubs. Eriksen knows this part of the world well and the Premier League is where he has performed at his best.
Manchester United have been linked with Eriksen more than once over the years. While the Dane wouldn’t be a first team figure for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he would be a good rotation option to ease some of the burden on Bruno Fernandes as United’s primary midfield creator. Such depth could be important in the second half of the season.
While there’s no suggestion they are interested, Manchester City would be an interesting place for Eriksen to end up. Pep Guardiola still hasn’t found a suitable successor to David Silva, with City frequently struggling to create chances in matches this season. Eriksen would be a cheap, but potentially effective signing to address this deficiency in their squad.
The truth is, though, Eriksen’s stock has plummeted over the last 18 months or so. Once seen as a Premier League superstar, he might now struggle to find a starting spot at any of the division’s top six clubs (besides Arsenal). If Eriksen is to make a return to English football in January, he might have to lower his expectations.
West Ham have been linked with a move for the 28-year-old. They have the financial clout to take on the Dane’s wages although David Moyes needs a central midfielder and a new striker more than he needs a creative playmaker in the January window. The Hammers have other areas of their squad to strengthen first.
Beyond these clubs. Eriksen’s options are likely to be limited. The Dane might desire a return to the Premier League, but he might be forced to look elsewhere, with Paris Saint-Germain emerging as a credible destination for him. There he would be reunited with Mauricio Pochettino, who is set to take over at the Parc des Princes.
At 28, Christian Eriksen still has time to return to the top of the game, but the step he takes next will be crucial in determining the rest of his career. He made a misstep in leaving Tottenham for Italy 12 months ago. He can’t afford another.
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