Manchester United are waiting for Christian Eriksen to decide whether he is interested in signing for them on a free transfer which is a long way removed from how things used to be at Old Trafford
It says everything about how far Manchester United have fallen from their perch at the top of English football that Cristian Eriksen is actually torn between signing for them or rejoining Brentford.
In the past, during the all-conquering years of Sir Alex Ferguson, when United came calling for a player, it was an absolute no-brainer – Old Trafford was the overwhelming destination of choice for anyone worth their salt. Serial Premier League winners, Champions League winners and contenders, playing in front of 75,000 fans every week, there was little to weigh up when United and Ferguson came for you.
But the fact Eriksen is undecided over whether to remain in London or relocate to Manchester, to be part of the new era under Erik ten Hag, sums up United’s spectacular fall from grace.
Given ten Hag has a restricted summer transfer budget of £ 120million, a move for free agent Eriksen makes sense, given the qualities he brings are so desperately needed by United. United are lacking creativity in midfield, with only Bruno Fernandes, ostensibly a No.10, possessing the guile to unlock defences and provide openings for Cristiano Ronaldo up front.
So signing Eriksen, with his eye for a pass and ability to create something from nothing, would undoubtedly strengthen United, at a time when they have few viable options in the transfer market. United’s refusal to pay over the odds for Frenkie de Jong has seen their pursuit of the Barcelona midfielder grind to a halt, so signing Eriksen as a free agent would be a clever move. Having lost five first-team players this summer – including four midfielders in Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard – United need to restock and Erkisen fits the bill.
The Denmark international, who has made a remarkable recovery from the cardiac arrest he suffered in his country opener at Euro 2020 last summer, is only 30 and still has much to offer. Whether Eriksen could play in the same line-up as Fernandes remains to be seen, although with ten Hag known to favor a 4-3-3 formation, the pair could play either side of a holding midfielder.
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Brentford’s decision to offer Eriksen a short-term deal in the second half of last season undoubtedly paid off, as he helped them to a creditable 13th place finish in the Premier League. The Bees picked up seven wins from the 10 games he started, managing just six in 28 he did not start, while their goal ratio doubled following Eriksen’s January arrival. He ranked third in the Premier League for chances created and passes made into the final third since his first start for Brentford, in a 3-1 win at Norwich, on March 5.
Moreover, Eriksen played the full 90 minutes in three of Denmark’s four recent UEFA Nations League games, ending doubts about any issues over his long-term health. Away from the pitch, Eriksen and his family are settled in London, where he enjoyed seven years at Tottenham, as well as his Brentford stint, and he is said to be unsure about uprooting them to Manchester.
With the World Cup in November and December, Eriksen must also decide where he will get the most playing time, to ensure he arrives in Qatar match-fit and able to produce his best form for Denmark.
The decision is ultimately down to Eriksen. That United could do with a player of his talent within their squad and want him is undeniable. Whether Eriksen feels the same way and concludes his career will be best served by joining United remains to be seen.
If he chooses London, it will be a further blow to the bruised pride of fallen giants United, yet to make a signing this summer.