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If Tottenham want success they need to keep Christian Eriksen

If Tottenham want success they need to keep Christian Eriksen

The Danish Playmaker remains the brains behind Tottenham's brawn.

THEY huffed and they puffed and in the end not so much blew the house down, but threw out the intruders who dared to leave their house with something to show for their audacity. Indeed, for 86 minutes it seemed that Aston Villa would mark their first visit to Tottenham Hotspur’s shimmering new stadium with at least a point. Then Harry Kane struck twice to ensure their empty-handedness.

Kane was the one who grabbed the headlines, the one whose actions were directly attributable to the end result - a Spurs win on opening weekend. But it wasn’t just the 26-year-old who changed the game. Christian Eriksen played almost as big a role, coming off the bench when Spurs were trailing to give them something they had been lacking up until that point.

The introduction of the Dane with 25 minutes left opened up the attacking third of the pitch for the hosts. Spurs had seen plenty of the ball but came up against a block on the edge of the Villa penalty area. That block was just as much in their own mindset as in the tactics and tenacity of the opposition, though.

With Dele Alli missing through injury and Giovani Lo Celso yet to be inducted at his new club, Spurs were distinctly one-dimensional. This was only addressed when Eriksen came on. Moussa Sissoko brings a drive and energy to Spurs’ game, but he does not have the skillset to create space and open up opposition defences in the way Eriksen can. 

This not ideal for Spurs given that the Dane’s future is very much still up in the air. Eriksen was very clear in stating his desire for a new challenge earlier in the summer with recent reports reiterating his eagerness to move to Spain. The Premier League transfer window might have closed, but Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, the two teams thought to be leading the chase, have until the end of the move to make something happen.

Spurs simply can’t allow Eriksen to leave, though. Daniel Levy might have some transfer outlay to claw back after spending big on Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele and Ryan Sessegnon, but the Dane is one of the last players he should be looking to sell, even if he only has one year left on his current contract.

Eriksen is central to what Mauricio Pochettino has built at Tottenham. Without him Kane’s supply line is affected. Without Eriksen he is often guilty of trying too much himself and that in turn affects Lucas Moura, who fills the space around the Spurs frontman as a sort of secondary striker. Removing Eriksen from this structure could cause some real damage and might set Spurs back significantly when they are targeting a title challenge.

It’s possible that Lo Celso could ultimately take on the Eriksen role, but the Argentine is a different sort of player. He plays with more drive, covers more ground and doesn’t have the same precision in passing and movement as the Danish playmaker. Nonetheless, Spurs could apt to having Lo Celso as the creative dynamo through which their attacking play flows.

Selling Eriksen by the end of the month and counting on Lo Celso to pick up this role immediately would represent an almighty gamble, a reckless one. It would not be the mark of a shrewd club with a holistic transfer strategy, but the sign of a chairman desperate to balance the books at all costs.

Already established as English football’s third force, Tottenham are well-placed to take on Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League this season. Their squad is the strongest it has been in a generation and having settled into their new home there’s a sense that pieces are falling into place. But Eriksen is one of those pieces. Allow him to leave and a hole might appear in the picture.





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Graham Ruthven
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