The Denmark international is one of the most sought after players around in Europe, but he will have to step up his game in order to earn a big money move
By Stefan Coerts | Dutch Football Editor
Although Christian Eriksen has only two years of first team experience under his belt at Ajax, the attacking midfielder has already attracted the interest of some of Europe's biggest clubs, as AC Milan, Arsenal, Barcelona and Manchester United are all believed to be keeping tabs on the playmaker.
The interest from England and Spain is nothing new though for the gifted midfielder, as he already underwent trial periods at Barcelona and Chelsea at the age of 16. However, neither of the two sides eventually decided to add Eriksen to their youth academy, and he eventually left Odense for Ajax in January 2009.
The Middelfart-born youngster did not waste any time to make an impact in Amsterdam, and was promoted to the first team barely 12 months after his arrival. Then, head coach Martin Jol was thoroughly impressed with Eriksen and the attacking midfielder officially debuted in the Eredivisie match against NAC on January 17, 2010. He has since made a total of 61 league appearances for the Dutch champions, and has developed into one of the Godenzonen's undisputed star players.
TO AJAX 2011-12
|| vs. De Graafschap (A) 4-1
|| vs. Heerenveen (H) 5-1
|| vs. VVV (A) 2-2
|Aug 26||vs. Vitesse (H) 4-1|
|| vs. Heracles (A) 3-2
|| vs. Roda (A) 4-0
||vs. Utrecht (A) 6-4|
|Nov 27||vs. NEC (A) 0-3|
|Dec 3|| vs. Excelsior (H) 4-1
|| vs. Ado Den Haag (H) 4-0
||vs. Dinamo Zagreb (A) 0-2|
||vs. Dinamo Zagreb (H) 4-0|
|Jan 19||vs. AZ (H) 2-3|
There's no arguing that the Denmark international has had some brilliant moments in the 2011-12 campaign, most notably the exquisite nutmeg of Vitesse's Davy Propper in August, and his near perfect showing versus Roda in October.
However, the 19-year-old has only netted a meagre four times in 18 Eredivisie appearances, and his finishing still leaves much to desire.
Ajax have a history of No.10s who score on a regular basis, largely thanks to their attacking footballing philosophy. Players such as Jari Litmanen, Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder all took advantage of this positive style of play and had seasons where they scored at least 15 league goals in Amsterdam. Eriksen, on the other hand, has hit the back of the Eredivisie net just 10 times since moving to the Amsterdam ArenA.
His average goal scoring record can partially be attributed to the fact that he has had to play off several different forwards, rather than one permanent striker with whom he can develop a certain understanding, although Eriksen has to look at himself as well.
The midfielder often loses his calm in dangerous positions, and on too many occasions opts for the long range strike instead of taking his time to get closer to the goal. Additionally, Eriksen now and again seems to prefer artistry over efficiency.
The midfielder is arguably Ajax's most talented player, but occasionally seems too shy to impose himself. At the age of 19 he is still only a baby in footballing terms, but to completely fulfil his potential he will have to become much more dominant.
Too often do the Ajax fans see a less talented player in possession in an area where Eriksen should have the ball at his feet. However, rather than make his presence known and demand the ball, the sympathetic Dane tends to adapt to the situation and tries to create space for the lesser gifted team-mate. As much as this humbleness is a respectable characteristic, Eriksen will have to change this aspect of his game, both for his own benefit, and for that of the team.
There is little doubt about Eriksen's immense potential, and his performances with both the national side and Ajax suggest that he has a bright future ahead of him.
But, he is not ready to make the next step in his career just yet.
Eriksen would be wise to stay with Ajax for at least one more full season, before eventually moving abroad to follow in the footsteps of illustrious compatriots such as the Laudrup brothers.
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