Sir Alex Ferguson may have claimed on the club website that Manchester United will do no business in this transfer window, but the Red Devils are rarely completely silent in their dealings. While a variety of sources including The Daily Mail have reported that a deal for Wilfried Zaha is close, The Express suggests Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen is a United target.
The Danish starlet has been on the radar of top European clubs for a while, and has been linked with several English sides since starring for Denmark in a friendly against England in February 2011. European club football has also provided a stage for Eriksen, impressing many observers as Ajax provided problems for United in last year’s Europa League, and even more so in taking 4 points off Manchester City in this season’s Champions League.
Still just 20, Eriksen is already an experienced footballer. He has played over 130 competitive games for Ajax since 2010, and has 31 full international caps to his name. The playmaker operates best in a central attacking midfield role, but can adapt his game to play in deeper or wider as required. Are the Premier League leaders a likely destination then?
There is no doubt that United will be looking to strengthen their midfield options in the next year. However, the priority may be for a wide player (Zaha) and a holding anchor to offer protection to the back four. In my opinion, the latter is the missing piece of the jigsaw if Sir Alex wants to win a historic third European Cup.
The central midfield debate at Manchester United has raged for a long time. Since Scholes and Keane, Ferguson has struggled to find the perfect blend. The loss of Darren Fletcher has compounded this issue – a player who was so sorely missed in both Champions League Final defeats to Barcelona.
However, Michael Carrick’s increasing influence on the side, combined with Tom Cleverley’s emergence as a ‘big game starter’, shows the potential for this pairing to flourish. Cleverley in particular looks much more assured alongside Carrick than other midfield team mates.
There is competition for the position as well. Anderson has shown glimpses of form on several occasions this season, and Scholes has an important role to play as a squad member. There are also several players who can perform a role in the centre, including Giggs, Rooney, Jones, Kagawa and Powell.
Yet the addition of a player like Eriksen would be excellent business for United. It would certainly aid squad rotation and provide more direct competition for Cleverley, Carrick and Kagawa in particular. His European experience would be a huge advantage as well.
Eriksen himself may not be so keen on the move. His slight physique and wonderful technique would arguably be more suited to Spain or Italy, rather than the frenetic English Premier League. Either way, he is yet another gem from the Ajax production line.