Manchester United’s belated transfer operations finally seem to be clicking into gear with Tyrell Malacia already passing his medical while free agent Christian Eriksen has verbally agreed to a three-year deal at United. New manager Erik ten Hag has a clear style of play he wants his new players to adhere to and that is the reason behind his insistence on completing a deal for the Dane.
All of the Red’s transfer targets this summer have a similar type of profile in the fact that they love to have possession of the ball and know to use it properly while manipulating space. Barcelona midfielder and primary target Frenkie de Jong would be the icing on the cake. But why did the Dutchman insist on bringing a Brentford player to arguably the biggest club in the world?
🚨 EXCLUSIVE: Christian Eriksen has verbally agreed to join Manchester United as a free agent. 30yo playmaker has communicated desire to play for #MUFC + accept 3y deal. Contract needs to be finalised & medical conducted before move complete @TheAthleticUK https://t.co/YPnPldXRhg
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) July 4, 2022
The club is severely lacking quality in the middle of the park after losing Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard on a free. The only senior options include Fred, Scott Mctominay and Bruno Fernandes while talented youngsters like James Garner and Hannibal Mejbri are waiting in the wings.
The former Tottenham Hotspur player represents a no-nonsense character, someone who might not be the typical big-name signing United have indulged in over the last few years but statistics show that he will certainly prove to be a game-changer on the pitch.
Eriksen joined the Bees only in January and made a total of 11 appearances. He scored once, and assisted a further four. But his presence in the middle of the park changed things for Thomas Frank’s side. His arrival coincided with a massive uptick in form with the London club winning seven out of the 10 matches he started.
If and when the switch to the red half of Manchester is finally completed, it will represents a fairy-tale turnaround for a player who seemed to be destined to be watching the game from the comfort of his home. After suffering a cardiac arrest during Euro 2020, he was let go by Inter Milan as he had to be fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator.
Eriksen improves United
His role at Tottenham was more of an advanced playmaker, something Bruno does for the Red Devils currently. But Eriksen is a different type of footballer as compared to the Portuguese. For one, he is not as flashy and does not attempt as many Hollywood passes as the former Sporting Lisbon man.
He is a smart operator, who finds space and knits together passes to open up an angle for the killer ball to the striker. He did that to great effect back at Spurs. Bruno had a poor season by his own high standards, and competition in that regard will surely help him to regain those levels.
Eriksen can definitely play the Pogba role, picking up the ball in midfield and dictating play. He is not someone who is guilty of overdoing it and instead of fancy flicks and tricks, he relies on his majestic passing range to open up a game. While at Brentford, the former Ajax man regularly dropped deep to orchestrate play and pinged diagonal balls to his pacy attackers. Something Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga would relish.
The 30-year-old also can play as part of a midfield three and if need be in a double pivot as well. While not against all opposition, but United have certainly struggled over the last few seasons in unlocking a low block. Eriksen’s almost ethereal-like passing is a sure-fire way to pick a stubborn defence.
His set-piece delivery is second to none and according to an Athletic infographic, he recorded the best expected assists per 90 while Brentford far outranked the English giants in terms of set-piece conversions.
Ten Hag will be aware of the need to improve set-piece conversion, something his predecessors Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick failed to address. Eriksen will be key in that aspect.
In just over a year, thoughts of hanging up his boots have been replaced with the idea of turning up at Old Trafford with 76,000 fans cheering him on. Apart from a lesson in bouncing back, Eriksen will also be keen on taking up the challenge of restoring United to their former glory.