How would Christian Eriksen fit in at Liverpool?

Anfield Pitch

Reports have emerged this week linking Liverpool with a summer bid for Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen.

Arsenal legend and the Dutch champions’ technical director Marc Overmars confirmed this week that the Reds are indeed interested in the Danish midfield maestro.

"We have the list of the scouts of foreign clubs who have been here recently and Liverpool has been a regular visitor," he told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

Whilst Ajax will be reluctant to lose one of their key players, the highly-rated 21-year-old’s outstanding performances in the Eredivisie this season have caught the eye of a number of potential suitors across the continent including the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United.

To make matters considerably more cumbersome for the Dutch outfit, Eriksen’s current contract expires in the summer of 2014 meaning he will likely be sold this summer, a more preferable outcome than losing a player valued at £14 million for nothing in just over a year’s time.

He’s made 39 first-team appearances for Ajax this term, scoring 10 goals and making 17 assists. He is exceptionally technically gifted with the flexibility to play as a central midfielder, attacking midfielder (his preferred position) or even as a forward or second striker.

Even at the tender age of 21, he’s already made 34 senior appearances for the Danish national team and is expected to play a key role in their World Cup 2014 ambitions.

Ajax have strong connections with Arsenal – their assistant manager happens to be Dennis Bergkamp – yet the Gunners have already invested in their midfield areas – they already have Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere amongst others, and Manchester United only recently secured the services of Shinji Kagawa who is a relatively similar player to Eriksen.

I believe the likelihood is that Eriksen will be playing in the red of Liverpool next term – the Reds have struggled to perform consistently this season under new manager Brendan Rodgers but his January signings of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho were astute and will pay dividends in the long-term which is exactly what the Reds should be focused on at this juncture.

Summer signing Joe Allen who moved along with Rodgers from Swansea City, has struggled to replicate his form from last season to a large extent but, at just 23 years of age, he has plenty of time to develop and improve.

Jordan Henderson is a strange case – after showing such promise at Sunderland, he has yet to truly convince he belongs in Liverpool’s line-up game in game out.

The likes of Suso and Jonjo Shelvey have started to hit their stride in recent outings but Liverpool are still far too heavily reliant on the service of Steven Gerrard from the middle of the park.

At 32 years old, the skipper isn’t going to be able to maintain the form and fitness of his peak years for very much longer and a signing like Eriksen would go some way to lighten the burden of creativity that currently rests on the captain. No other player in Liverpool's current squad can match his vision and passing accuracy and that has been the case for the best part of a decade.

Luis Suarez’ sensational form this season has been in many ways a season saver for Rodgers but his future at Anfield would be in less jeopardy if Rodgers can offer him assurances that more quality and depth will be added to the squad.

Eriksen is one of the most promising talents of his generation and he is only going to improve with maturity and experience. He is close to the level of Jack Wilshere and is certainly on a par with Tottenham’s recent German import Lewis Holtby.

Those three, along with Malaga’s Isco and Bayern Munich’s Toni Kroos are, in my humble opinion, the very best young playmakers in Europe at present. Should Liverpool manage to secure the Dane’s services this summer, they will have the perfect linchpin to build their team around.

At present, their aging captain has presided over that position alone for many years and if Brendan Rodgers is as astute as he appears when it comes to the transfer market, he’ll invest in Liverpool’s future now. A player of Christian Eriksen’s talent is not going to sit on the shelf for very long.

Overmars claims he is their target - if I were a Liverpool fan I would be hoping he was the first and foremost target.

images: © Martini DK, © Ben Sutherland

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