In a move that felt inevitable, Christian Eriksen has admitted he is open to leaving Tottenham Hotspur this summer.
The 27-year-old, who has made 277 appearances for Spurs since joining from Ajax in 2013, has just one year remaining on his current contract and talks over a new deal have stalled a number of times. He has subsequently been linked with a move away from north London on several occasions in recent months.
Having missed out on winning a first trophy with Tottenham on Saturday, losing 2-0 to Liverpool in the Champions League final, Eriksen is now seeking “clarification” over his future. Speaking to the media in his native Denmark this week, the playmaker confessed he may seek a fresh challenge by leaving the capital.
“I feel like I’m at a point in my career where I might want to try something new,” he said. “But again, I have the deepest respect for everything that has happened with Tottenham, nor will it be a negative thing to stay with the club.”
Eriksen went on to suggest there are a number of possibilities for him this summer. So we’ve had a look at all of the options – some more realistic than others – ahead of what could be a frantic few weeks for the Dane’s agent.
Dream: Real Madrid or Barcelona
Such has been the high standard of Eriksen’s performances over the last few seasons, Real Madrid and Barcelona have both been mooted as potential destinations at one time or another. A move to Barcelona was talked up when the Catalans’ deal for Philippe Coutinho stalled, while Real Madrid are the club he has been primarily linked with over the last few months.
For any footballer, the La Liga pair are usually seen as the ultimate dream. Chances are that if a player is excelling for a top six club in the Premier League, they will be on the radars of both Real Madrid and Barcelona. And bar a slightly inconsistent final few months of this season – possibly a result of the transfer speculation – Eriksen’s displays will have caught the eye of Spain’s big two.
Eriksen even mentioned Madrid in his revealing interview, naming the 13-time champions of Europe as one of the few clubs that will be seen as a step up from Spurs if he is to depart: “If you were to leave, I would hopefully feel that it would be a step up. Real Madrid is a step up, but it requires that there be interest from the club before anything happens.”
Zinedine Zidane is expected to oversee a summer overhaul in the coming weeks, a process that has already begun with the arrival of striker Luka Jovic from Eintracht Frankfurt, the signing of Eder Militao from Porto in March, and the ongoing pursuit of Chelsea talisman Eden Hazard. Meanwhile, Barcelona have brought in Ajax starlet Frenkie de Jong to freshen up their midfield. The arrival of Eriksen would certainly help to further the respective goals of the two clubs.
Squawka suggests: Real Madrid
While signing Jovic and possibly Hazard will drain Real Madrid’s budget somewhat, they are more in need of additions than Barcelona, and so Eriksen ending up in a white shirt is debatably the more likely scenario. Bringing him in will inject the creativity needed for Jovic to be a success while adding a goal threat in midfield; Eriksen has scored at least 10 goals in five of his six seasons at Spurs.
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Realistic: Tottenham or Juventus
It’s important to recognise the fact that Eriksen hasn’t ruled out remaining at Tottenham and signing a new contract if a transfer doesn’t come to fruition. “It depends on what the possibilities are,” he said. “Whether there’s something exciting enough, or if there’s nothing more exciting than Tottenham. If there isn’t, I will sign a new contract.”
As we’ve already alluded to, the club expected to be Eriksen’s first choice, Real Madrid, may be about to spend the majority of their summer budget on Hazard. And while there may still be enough to bring in other much-needed recruits, Real will have to deal with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who will command a huge fee for Eriksen regardless of his contract situation.
Tottenham’s valuation of their star midfielder may well end up being a stumbling block when it comes to Eriksen’s desire for a new challenge. But while he seems willing to stay put if that is the case, even a club of Juventus’ size might be a temptation. The Serie A champions were allegedly keen on a cut-price deal back in March, and they could be waiting in the shadows if Real Madrid and Barcelona drop their interest.
There is a similar issue here to the one preventing a clear route to Madrid. Juventus are being linked with a Paul Pogba reunion, and there may only be room in the squad for one of Pogba or Eriksen. The club’s next managerial appointment could also have a bearing on that, but in theory a move to Juventus for Eriksen is far from unrealistic.
Squawka suggests: Juventus
Eriksen owes a lot to Tottenham for his progression, which may be the reason behind his kind words for the club and his apparent willingness to stick around for a bit longer. But in truth, it’s unlikely he would have made his recent comments if a move away wasn’t at the forefront of his mind. At this stage, joining Juventus could be seen as a more realistic outcome than staying at Spurs.
Wildcard: Bayern Munich or Man City
Bayern Munich have confirmed James Rodriguez will not be joining the club permanently when his two-year loan spell from Real Madrid ends at the end of the month. That means the German giants will be on the lookout for a new attacking midfielder at the same time as Eriksen has essentially put out a come-and-get-me plea to Europe’s big hitters.
Like Zidane at Madrid, Niko Kovac plans to overhaul his ageing squad this summer. Bayern want the stature of German football to challenge that of England and Spain again, and the only way to do that is to lure top players from the Premier League and La Liga, something they are attempting to do with the signing of Lucas Hernandez from Atletico Madrid and reported interest in Leroy Sane.
Eriksen’s arrival would aid the cause and then some. But have Bayern done enough to convince him to move to the Bundesliga ahead of another Premier League club? Manchester United have been credited with a fondness of Eriksen in the past, though their lack of Champions League football will hurt their chances. Perhaps, then, United’s neighbours will take a punt.
David Silva has been linked with the Manchester City exit door, and Guardiola will be keen to recruit a replacement if the 33-year-old departs. There would be few better ways to make up for the Spaniard’s absence than with Eriksen, who could reach another level under a manager renowned for improving players to an even greater extent than Mauricio Pochettino.
Squawka suggests: Bayern Munich
It is believed Manchester City expect Silva to stay for at least another year, so a proposed move for Eriksen could already be dead in the water. Bayern, meanwhile, will undoubtedly be on the lookout for a James replacement, and Eriksen fits the bill.