One of the curiosities of the 2019/20 Premier League season has been the below-par performances of Tottenham Hotspur. As recently as 2016 they were bona fide contenders for the EPL title, and since then they have been perennial top four finishers and Champions League stalwarts. But from the get-go this term, it was apparent that all was not well at the North London club.
With just three wins from their opening twelve Premier League encounters, it was obvious that Mauricio Pochettino had somehow lost the dressing room, and then the rumours and tabloid tales began to emerge. One of those regarded the alleged extra-marital antics of Christian Eriksen’s wife and teammate Jan Vertonghen – strenuously denied by all parties.
Regardless, it had certainly had an unsettling effect, particularly on Eriksen who told the club that he would not be signing a contract extension.
That made the Dane eligible to talk to non-English clubs to strike up a transfer agreement for the summer. Inter Milan took the bait, signing Eriksen with immediate effect for a fee of £17 million. If, and it’s a big if right now, the Italians can find a way to get the best from the midfield maestro, they have surely bagged an absolute bargain.
And for Eriksen, well, heading off to pastures new might just reinvigorate a career that was threatening to turn rather stale just months shy of Euro 2020, where he will be an integral figure in the Denmark side. Could this be the sweetest deal struck in the January transfer window?
A Great Dane
There’s no doubting that, if Inter boss Antonio Conte can cajole the 27-year-old to deliver his best, the Milan side have landed a tremendous player.
Eriksen scored 56 goals and assisted 70 others in a seven-season stint at the London outfit, as well as averaging more than two shots over game and two key passes per 90 minutes throughout his time at Tottenham – in an interview with the Italian media after his transfer was announced, the player himself commented that ‘the numbers say that I did really well in England.’
And it is that exceptional level, rather than the fairly listless performances he has turned in this term, that Conte and the Inter Milan fanbase are looking for. Many pundits are of the opinion that the Danish international can thrive at the San Siro, with the slower tempo of Italian football suiting a player not exactly blessed with blistering pace.
But he does possess a brilliant footballing brain, an eye for a pass and that natural ability to find himself in little pockets of space. In Conte’s adventurous 3-4-2-1 system, he will act as the playmaker in front of the more prosaic Borja Valero and Marcelo Brozovic and behind the strike pairing of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez.
Eriksen is also the taker of a mean set-piece, and that ability to produce moments of magic in tight games will surely elevate Inter’s chances of finally ending Juventus’ monopoly of the Italian title. According to the bookmakers’ latest outright Serie A betting odds, Juve are still a red-hot favourite but Milan, buoyed by the arrival of their new signing, will no doubt push them all the way.
By the summer, we might just be reflecting on a rather savvy transaction from Inter in bringing Eriksen to Italy.
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