Everyone knows Manchester United spent the summer chasing Frenkie de Jong, but it looks like Erik ten Hag may have already signed an alternative option for free.
Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen played a much deeper role against Arsenal and was instructed to follow Martin Odegaard around the pitch – to limit the Norwegian star’s impact in the final third.
Ten Hag can trust Eriksen to carry out these duties and it helps that he provides United with the on-ball qualities De Jong would have brought to Old Trafford. The 30-year-old has the ability to drop deep and dictate the tempo of games.
The Dane has played a key role for United in the past four games, proving he can play alongside Bruno Fernandes, and is more than a mere back-up option.
Speaking about how Eriksen’s presence benefits Bruno Fernandes and other United players, Ten Hag said (via Manchester Evening News): “Bruno Fernandes gets support [from Christian], he can also pass the final ball, receive the final ball, the togetherness they really suit together.
“We put him a little more down on the pitch, like a six, eight role, he has a lot of freedom, he has to interchange with the spaces where he has to be and the rest have to adapt to that.
“He can make a game for you, make the switch of play, he sees a pass between the lines, make the final pass and go back into attack to score a goal. He can improve his defence, when he plays like today one small mistake, we’ll give him that, he played a magnificent game.”
With the Europa League starting this week, I think it would be a good time to give Eriksen a rest. Especially when he deserves one.
That could open the door for Fred to start against Real Sociedad on Thursday night.