Mason Mount’s arrival at Manchester United is sure to cause some changes in the team and according to one footballer-turned-pundit, a big one is on the way.
Gabriel Agbonlahor, speaking to Football Insider, said that Christian Eriksen’s days in the first team are now numbered with the arrival of Mount.
He said the Dane “lacks the legs” to play in Erik ten Hag’s system and the “more mobile” Mount will immediately relegate him to the bench.
He had a dim view of Eriksen’s performances last season, saying “he didn’t do very well” and “couldn’t get the ball back as much”.
Eriksen made 44 appearances in all competitions last season, scoring two goals and notching 10 assists.
He generally played as one of the two deep holding midfielders alongside Casemiro in a 4-2-3-1. It is a role that demands a lot of physical work and defensive nous, two things that are not his strength.
He proved invaluable to United’s buildup play with his quick vertical passes which broke the opposition’s defensive lines.
However, it is true that he looked overrun in the bigger games when the opponents pressed relentlessly. The game seemed to pass by him as his legs gave out. It left Casemiro chasing shadows single-handedly while Bruno Fernandes was effectively reduced to a box-to-box player despite playing as an attacking midfielder.
In mitigation, he suffered a freak injury last season and definitely played more than anyone could have envisioned as Ten Hag failed to land his other midfield target in Frenkie de Jong.
Furthermore, United’s remarkable match load last season meant players were run into the ground. Eriksen played 3,079 minutes last season despite missing nearly two months of action due to injury.
Therefore, while Mount will undeniably prove to be an upgrade over the Dane in terms of athleticism, it is too soon to say that Eriksen’s importance will wane.
His ball-retention and chance-creation abilities are still elite and if anything, Mount’s arrival will help the manager to sort Eriksen’s workload better, causing an improvement in his form.