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January Transfer Targets: Scouting Ajax's Cristian Eriksen

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - DECEMBER 01:  Christian Eriksen of Ajax gets ready to give a ball to the fans after victory in the Eredivisie match between Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven at Amsterdam Arena on December 1, 2012 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterDecember 18, 2012

Roll on January, roll on intense speculation that each player on the planet is mulling over 10 different offers from six different countries.

The Sun are quick to grasp at the inevitable straws as usual, asking Tottenham centre-back Jan Vertonghen if Christian Eriksen is a good player (which he obviously is), then linking the Danish playmaker to the North London club with a fabricated price tag.

Here's your lot on Eriksen, and it turns out Vertonghen is right, by the way.

 

Modern

Football evolves every year. Sometimes players fit the trend, sometimes they buck it.

There are a fair number of playmakers coming out of the woodwork, and Eriksen compares favourably among them all.

Ganso, for example, is a player caught in the wrong era—a static enganche who suffers due to his lack of tenacity and dearth of physicality. He's no good vertically and has failed to adapt to a game that ignores the classic No. 10.

Christian Eriksen is an entirely different story.

His versatility has been on show all season long, playing as a pivot, an enganche and a false-nine at domestic and continental levels.

Like most No. 10s, he likes to play between the lines. In today's game, teams make a concerted effort to shrink that space or deploy a man to occupy it, which is the reason why Ganso struggles.

According to Chris Atkins, he "struggled to deal with the rugged, battle-hardened defensive midfielders the continent had to offer" during the Copa America.

That's why mobility is so important, and when Eriksen gains a little more muscle, he'll be more than a match for any anchor.

He has undoubtedly made his name as a playmaker, but another marker for just how high his ceiling is is his extreme adaptability.

Here he is playing as a false-nine against Manchester City—a game in which he absolutely bossed the opposition—using his superior movement and ball-playing skills to flummox the Citizens defence.

As much as this system relies on the inward movement of the wingers, Eriksen plays his role superbly.

 

Conclusion

Any bad bits? He overcomplicates things sometimes, to be honest.

Against superior opposition he reins it in, but against PSV Eindhoven, a game that Ajax won 3-1 at the Amsterdam Arena, he played an expansive game and tried lots of first-time Hollywood passes and flicks.

It's a balance he failed to find at Euro 2012, where he performed very poorly, but the win over Roberto Mancini's side proved he can mix it with the big boys.

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