Much has been made of Manchester United’s excessive spending this summer, but it could be argued that their best new recruit of the lot was free transfer and partial gamble Christian Eriksen. The Dane, who has enjoyed a remarkable change of fortunes after suffering a cardiac arrest at last summer’s European Championships, headed to Old Trafford without any pressure on his shoulders following his short-lived stint with Brentford.
It soon became clear – despite a delayed start to life his new course – that Eriksen was deemed capable of starting matches regularly under Erik ten Hag.
Eriksen was not signed to make up the numbers and over time, United have somehow unlocked the Tottenham version of the playmaker – when the 30-year-old was operating at the peak of his powers.
That very proposition seems somewhat miraculous given that Eriksen is currently running around with a heart-starter device – an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) – implanted beneath his skin.
Yet despite the frightening ordeal, Eriksen is now showing exactly why United worked so hard to sign the player following his release from Brentford.
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The attacking midfielder has been a breath of fresh air in the middle of the park for United, starting attacks from deep and selflessly feeding the forwards.
While United may have overspent heavily on the likes of Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro and Antony – nobody can take away that the arrival of Eriksen has already proven to be a steal.
The Denmark international is currently playing like a £50m creative midfielder – this is the Eriksen we were so used to seeing before his underwhelming move to Inter Milan in January 2020.
Ten Hag has also managed to accommodate both Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes without impacting the general function of the team – something that initially did not seem possible.
Not only have United saved serious money but they have also signed a player that has immediately improved the team. Eriksen has taken no time to settle, whatever and is already accustomed to the Premier League.
He has decreased the reliance on midfield colleague Bruno Fernandes, who had become the difference between United winning and losing.
Now there is more of a balance with United no longer solely dependent on the performances of individuals within their ranks – not least last season’s top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, who has now been dropped to the bench.
Murtough, who was a key driving force behind United’s push for Eriksen, knew exactly what kind of player United were signing, too. He was always adamant the former Spurs ace would get back to his best if he joined the club…
He said: “Christian has been one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe throughout his career. It is no surprise that he had so many options this summer, so we are really happy that he was convinced that this is the right club for him. “
Before adding: “In addition to his outstanding technique, Christian will add valuable experience and leadership skills to the squad, and we are looking forward to seeing the benefits of these qualities on the pitch this coming season and beyond.”
So far, Murtough’s verdict and assessment of United’s new signing has been spot on, to a tee. The Red Devils are now looking far more balanced in the middle of the park and have the quality to transform defense into attack within seconds.
While Eriksen’s wages were not cheap, the absence of a transfer fee has worked wonders for United – allowing them to spend bigger cash elsewhere on other targets. Make no mistake about it, this was a masterstroke from Murtough.