Manchester United’s summer acquisition of Christian Eriksen left some wondering where the Denmark international would fit in at Old Trafford, but the early stages of the season suggest that he has become an integral player for Erik ten Hag.
A rocky start for the Red Devils saw Eriksen used as a false nine against Brighton, before taking on the role of the deepest midfielder during an ill-fated away trip to Brentford.
He has since operated more as a number eight, at times alongside McTominay and at times ahead of him.
It is a position in which he has flourished and, with a skillset unlike any of United’s other midfielders, he has become an integral part of the team.
Eriksen’s involvement in United getting the ball forward is plain for all to see and the stats back it up.
A staggering 37% of all of his passes move the ball forward (Squawka), highlighting what the Dane brings to the Red Devils’ midfield.
With 65 touches per game despite United hardly holding possession much as a team so far this term, it is clear that Eriksen has become the go-to option for his teammates when looking for a deep creator.
He has been inventive in forward position too and his sole assist is sure to find company soon, given he is currently creating chances at a rate of 1.4 per match.
His consistency and range of passing has not been seen in a Manchester United midfield for quite some time and Eriksen is set to be heavily relied upon over the course of the campaign.
That could prove a worry as the hectic schedule really kicks into gear as Erik ten Hag simply does not have a player in his squad capable of providing a fraction of Eriksen’s playmaking qualities.
When a player is so vital to his team’s game plan, the worry is that he may end up being run into the ground – a problem United have had with other players over the last couple of years.
United will need to find alternative solutions in getting the ball up the pitch at some point, if only to take some physical and creative pressure off Eriksen.
For now though, the temptation is just to enjoy having such a cool operator in the engine room.