Goal takes a look at the Denmark international’s performances in 2012-13 ahead of a potential move away from the newly crowned Eredivisie champions in the summer
By Stefan Coerts
Three Eredivisie titles, one KNVB Beker, a host of individual awards, over 150 appearances at senior level and participation at a World Cup as well as a European Championship. That is the rather impressive resume of Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen at the tender age of 21.
It is therefore hardly surprising that the gifted midfielder is continually being linked with a move to a bigger league, with clubs such as Liverpool, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund all keeping tabs on his situation with the Amsterdam giants.
With a contract due to expire in June 2014, Ajax are widely expected to cash in on Eriksen this summer and the time seems right for the Dane to make the next step in his career.
|ERIKSEN’S SEASON SO FAR
After a relatively disappointing Euro 2012, Eriksen had a difficult start to the 2012-13 campaign, too, with Ajax coach Frank de Boer leaving him out of the squad for the Johan Cruyff Shield encounter against PSV and the Eredivisie opener versus AZ. The attacking midfielder was quickly reinstated once he returned to full match fitness, though, and has not disappointed since, proving a key figure in a successful title charge.
The Denmark star has occasionally been criticised for his failure to take the Godenzonen by the throat week after week – yet there is no denying that he has once more made some important steps forward this term. He might not always have been as dominant as you might expect from a player of his calibre against smaller opposition but his performances in the big games speak for themselves.
In four matches against PSV and Feyenoord – Ajax’s two biggest domestic rivals – Eriksen not only scored three goals but created a treble of chances to help the Amsterdam side to three wins and a draw, which proved crucial in the title race.
What will be even more reassuring for Spurs and Liverpool ahead of a potential summer move is that the young Dane managed to hold his own in the Champions League, too. Eriksen enjoyed perhaps his finest moment this term in Ajax’s 3-1 win over Manchester City, as he netted once and created another in the Dutch side’s surprise win, while he also did a fine job against Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.
Even though Ajax crashed out of the competition after the group stages, Eriksen confirmed once more that he has the potential to succeed at the very highest level.
“In my opinion, I’m not at the same level yet as [former Ajax players] Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder but this season was confirmation for myself that I can play at the highest level, also if you look at how I did in the Champions League,” Eriksen said himself after sealing the Dutch title, an opinion shared by former Spurs star Luka Modric earlier this season.
“Eriksen is very talented,” the Real Madrid midfielder enthused back in December. “He’s a great player and a key figure for Ajax.”
However, former head coach Aad de Mos feels the Denmark midfielder would act wise to stay at Ajax for one more season, and believes the 21-year-old is not done learning yet at the Amsterdam ArenA.
De Mos said: “I think he should stay put for another season. Eriksen has not yet reached his peak at Ajax, unlike Sneijder a few years ago. Wesley was done learning and ready for the next step but Eriksen? Not yet.”
There is no arguing Eriksen is not yet as dominant as Sneijder was before he left Ajax for Madrid in 2007, and there are question marks about whether the Dane would indeed be better off with one additional season in Amsterdam.
His best games came against top-class opposition, something which he only encounters a limited number of times in the Eredivisie, while he would have the chance to test himself against top teams much more often in a bigger league.
In order to make the next step in his development, more challenging surroundings could be just what Eriksen needs after yet another impressive season in the Netherlands.
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