Manchester United midfielder Christian Eriksen has admitted that it was Antonio Conte who first made him switch positions from being a number 10 who played behind the striker to plying his trade a little bit deeper in the middle of the park.
During his Tottenham Hotspur days, Eriksen made a name for himself as one of the Premier League’s most creative players in the No 10 position, playing behind Harry Kane.
He struck a formidable partnership with the England captain before moving to Inter Milan.
At Inter, where the Dane played under Conte, Eriksen was asked to occupy the number 8 position, from where he could control proceedings a bit more.
He signed for United last summer as a free agent from Brentford and has primarily been used by Erik ten Hag in the same fashion as Conte had asked of him.
The Denmark international spoke to Viaplay via Tipsbladet and was questioned about his versatility in midfield.
He said, “It has come naturally. It started when I moved to Italy, where Conte down there didn’t like me as much as a 10, so I was moved a bit further back. And it ultimately became my position there, and I have enjoyed it.”
“When I came here (in Manchester United) it was the same, where I tried to ‘fit in’ and tried to get the team to play better. They have that too, while I have played further forward, but in a different role.”
When asked whether there is a chance he can do a job in central defence, he jokingly exclaimed that there is “no chance” of such a thing happening.
The 31-year-old added that the primary benefit of playing deeper is that he finds himself on the ball more often than usual. He indicated that this is where his strengths lie.
“The more touches you have on the ball, the more you can not only take control but also create movements around you with or without the ball.
“I have always been a player who is better with than without the ball – and it is a position where you get the ball more.”
With Mason Mount still injured and Sofyan Amrabat still a doubt, Eriksen will undoubtedly be in contention to start alongside Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes against Brighton on Saturday.