What does the future hold for Christian Eriksen?
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London is a beautiful city with much to offer. Theatre, clubs, restaurants, gardens, colleges and universities with the highest standard. Anyone who visits would want to live there. Footballers too.
If there is a city with more football clubs than London, I don't know it. Seven Premier League sides and three more in the Football League, not to mention dozens in the lower tiers. It's about time English sides annexed European competition with London sides heavily involved.
Many fans are amazed that Tottenham stands among the four UEFA finalists, representing the city in the Champions League final. Not just because it was a shock for Mauricio Pochettino and company to knock off Manchester City, mind, but because the football world became accustomed to Spurs feeding champions rather than knocking them off their perch.
Long before Kyle Walker left the club for the Etihad, two other burgeoning stars picked up stakes for Madrid. Gareth Bale was a world record signing when he moved from White Hart Lane to the Santiago Bernabeu. The reigning Ballon d'Or recipient made the move as well. Despite the Welshman's talent and pace on the flank, losing the Croatian's ability to control matches from the centre of the park was the greater headache for Spurs' hierarchy.
That is where the feeder club of all feeder clubs came to the rescue. Less than a year after Modric's departure, the Dutch giants sold the North Londoners Christian Eriksen for £11 million pounds and a place in a Champions League final to be determined at a later date.
Eriksen picked up Modric's mantle and filled the void. They are similar talents. Both can play anywhere in the midfield, deep, wide, in behind the strikers. They're dangerous regardless. The Dane's eye for a pass is unrivalled. His creativity and ability to hold on to the ball is a delight.
Eriksen has all the qualities to become a great midfield maestro if he hasn't reached that level yet. He reads the game well, contributing to both attack and defence as needed. He doesn't hesitate to track back when his team loses the ball. Going the other way, his through-balls leave defenders helpless. If he was an actor, he'd star with George Clooney and Brad Pitt in Ocean's 11. That's how easy he unlocks defences.
When going through is not an option, his long shots make markers pay for not closing him down. His set-piece work is also of the highest calibre. His finishing could do with some work, but Modric isn't a Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard either.
Tottenham have somehow locked up fourth place. Their eight-goal advantage in goal difference effectively rules out Arsenal even if the Gunners make up the three-point deficit in the Premier League's final round of matches today. They accomplished that without making a single purchase in the summer transfer window that followed a World Cup despite most of their starting lineup reaching the semifinals in Russia. Critics expected them to run out of gas by January. On top of that, the club was forced to fight on for two long stretches without Harry Kane. The second will continue right through the Champions League final in Madrid.
How they pulled themselves through the long campaign without their talisman is a mystery but it would be a miracle for them to manage the feat without their primary playmaker. Eriksen played a vital role in Spurs glorious season. His 17 assists and 13 goals across all competition proved indispensable. Two assists, one in each leg against Manchester City, fired Spurs into the semifinals. Upon arriving, the 27-year-old showed no mercy to his former club.
The problem is that it's a very strong possibility Tottenham will soon become his former club as well. Who says no when Real Madrid call?
Zinedine Zidane didn't return to the Spanish capital to restore the status quo. He came to rebuild. Los Blancos endured a horrible season without him. Cristiano Ronaldo left in the summer but the 30-somethings who stayed, Modric among them, struggled to keep up with younger legs. The Croatian is expected to be among the first to vacate the clubhouse in June, whether he goes to Inter or elsewhere.
There are few playmakers who might come to mind as Modric's Bernabeu replacement before the 27-year-old, especially when his talents are showcased across town at the Wanda Metropolitano in the Champions League showcase.
Some might think 27 is too old for Madrid to consider. At best, they can expect five good years from him. Modric's five years from 27-32 produced four Champions League titles and a Ballon d'Or. Beat that for value. If Zidane knows anything about football, he ought to believe the Dane just might.