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Friday, 23 December 2011

Is Danish Wonderkind Christian Eriksen set to join Manchester United?

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With the January Transfer Window almost upon us the rumour mill is churning as usual with press speculation as to the in and outs we can expect to see in the next few weeks. As is always the case many names are bandied about, most with the intention of selling newspapers, and star names are mentioned almost as a matter of course.

One story though may well have more than a grain of truth about it and concerns the future of young Ajax star and Danish international Christian Erikssen. The 19-year-old attacking midfielder, from the delightfully named town of Middelfart in Denmark, has become a fixture in the Ajax top-team in the last couple of years and despite his tender years he has already amassed 20 caps for his country.

Needless to say he has attracted the attention of some even bigger clubs as his success with the Amsterdammers continues. Manchester United's Dutch coach Rene Meulensteen, who has previously worked in Denmark with Brøndby, has revealed that the club are definitely tracking Eriksen's progress, admitting that, "Eriksen would fit our transfer policy." He has also been linked to other clubs including Juventus, AC Milan and Barcelona.

Prior to making his Ajax first-team debut in january 2010 in an Eredivisie match against NAC Breda he was virtually unknown to the average fan, so what is his background?

He began playing as a kid with Middelfart and was picked up by Odense at the age of 13. The year after he joined they won the Danish youth championship with Eriksen scoring the only goal of the final. Good performances with the OB's U-16 and U-19 teams as well as Denmark's U-17s brought him to the attention of both Chelsea, AC Milan and Barcelona but he chose, probably wisely, to go to Ajax stating that his first move shouldn't be too big and that Ajax was "a fantastic option."

On October 17, 2008, with Eriksen still only 16, Ajax secured his services and OB received €1m. Good performances for the Ajax youth teams saw him promoted to the first team for that match against Breda and he hasn't looked back since, becoming indispensible in Ajax's charge to the title last season and winning numerous personal accolades such as Ajax Talent of the Year, Dutch Football Talent of the Year and Danish Footballer of the Year, as well as effusive praise from no less than the legendary Johann Cruyff.

He isn't a particularly prolific scorer of goals but more of a floating player behind the forwards who will chip in with numerous assists and come looking for the ball to set up attacks. Given United's need for a creative player to link midfield and attack he may be deployed slightly deeper if he does indeed arrive at Old Trafford although he has reportedly rejected the advances of an English club in the summer, and has also stated his desire to think very carefully about his move from Ajax with Spain a preference.

Only time will tell where and when he does move, but there can be no doubt that he is an exceptional talent and he will be out to shine in front of a worldwide audience when Denmark strut their stuff in the European Championships this coming summer.

Article by Iain Macfadzean

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Colin Illingworth



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