Christian Eriksen has already become a fan-favourite at Old Trafford and his performance against Arsenal on Sunday earned him the Man of the Match prize.
Erik ten Hag was keen on reuniting with the Danish international this summer, having offered him the chance to regain fitness by training with Ajax earlier in the year.
And the Dutchman’s decision to hand him a three-year contract at Old Trafford has already been vindicated. Eriksen has emerged out of United’s six games so far as one of their best players.
He is already integral to what United do as he operates in a slightly deeper role than what most have been used to seeing him in over his many years at Tottenham.
He has already been involved in a number of United’s goals this summer and his intelligence off the ball, mainly to create passing angles for himself and others, has transformed United when they have the ball.
It’s still too early to tell for sure but if Eriksen continues to have this influence on the side, he could realistically become the club’s best free signing in the Premier League era. So how does the 30-year-old compare to the other free transfers made in that period?
Since the inaugural Premier League season in 1992, United have completed nine free transfers with varied success.
Laurent Blanc, Mark Bosnich, Liam Miller, Michael Owen, Victor Valdes, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, and Tom Heaton all signed for nothing prior to Eriksen’s move this year.
Ibrahimovic had a strong impact on the Reds in Jose Mourinho’s first season and he was a catalyst for a highly successful campaign in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era – possibly the best season since 2013.
Cavani endeared himself to supporters during his first 12 months in Manchester but despite growing into a fan-favourite after scoring 17 goals in his first season, he seemed disinterested the following year.
The Uruguayan’s fall from grace could be traced back to when Cristiano Ronaldo rejoined the club but ultimately, the 2021/22 season ruined all of the good memories.
The late Liam Miller made just nine league appearances after joining from Celtic, whilst supporters would gladly forget about Valdes, Owen and Bosnich. Heaton is still at the club as Ten Hag’s third-choice goalkeeper and perhaps a wise head in that department is a smart move.
Blanc spent just two years at United as he wound down on a spectacular career but his biggest moments came for other teams, most famously the French national team.
Fundamentally, Eriksen has the potential to surpass all of the aforementioned players in terms of impact on the team. Zlatan’s stint at United was brief and unless Eriksen is struck with injury, the Dane will remain for much longer.
We have already seen that Ten Hag prefers him over any other player as the play-making midfielder from deep. The transfer window has closed and no one will replace him for at least another couple of months.