Rough Diamonds #12- Christian Eriksen (Ajax Amsterdam)


Danish people are not new to watching a technically adept, twinkle toed attacking midfielder who can unlock defences at will. So one can understand why they are excited about seeing Christian Eriksen doing “a Michael Laudrup”.

Laudrup is definitely the greatest Danish football player ever. At 20 years old, Eriksen is being deemed as his successor. Eriksen plies his trade in the Dutch Eredivisie, with Ajax. If what Eriksen has shown till now is any evidence, the famed Ajax youth Academy has unearthed yet another gem of a player.

Many people watching this year’s Champions League must have seen how Eriksen tormented Manchester City’s defence. It’s quite a feat, considering that City are the reigning English Champions. This might have surprised a few people, but for anyone following Eriksen for the past couple of years, this is nothing new.
Eriksen made his first team debut for Ajax in January of 2010, after working through the youth ranks. Martin Jol, the then coach of Ajax, saw his prodigious talent and gave him a good amount of playing time. He also compared him to players like Laudrup, Sneijder and Gullitt. He was also part of the national squad for the 2010 World Cup, but didn’t play a major role.

In the following season, 2010-11, Eriksen proved to be a regular in the team. Frank de Boer, former youth team and Ajax player, used Eriksen as a pivot in the midfield. His importance and influence grew with each match. Eriksen scored 6 goals and assisted 9 in a title winning year for him and Ajax.

For his performances and promise, he was awarded “Dutch Football Talent of the Year” in May 2011. Johan Cruyff, arguably the greatest player to emerge from Ajax and Holland, said “He’s a player I really like with all my heart. You can compare him with Brian and Michael Laudrup. Only time will tell if Eriksen can reach the same level as them”
The 2011-12 season showed that Eriksen indeed would reach the promised land. He was almost an ever present in the Ajax team that defended its title. Though they were knocked out from a tough group in the Champions League, Eriksen was praised for his and Ajax’s gusto performance that scared Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Europa League.

Eriksen scored and assisted 8 and 21 goals respectively. He would also see his national team secure qualification to the Euro 2012. And for these achievements, Eriksen was recognised as the “Danish Football Player of the Year”. Though he would not have a very enjoyable Euro – Denmark were knocked out in the group stage (a group that consisted Germany, Holland and Portugal) and Eriksen’s performances were rather mediocre – this is only the start for Eriksen.

Eriksen’s ability to score and assist goals with ease (he is ambidextrous, by the way) will elevate the quality of any team. What is also interesting about the young kid is that he is able to play in the “Xavi role”, as a controller of the tempo and flow of the game, or in the “number 10” role, creating and scoring goals.
At the very young age of 20, Eriksen has managed to earn 30 national caps already. There lie in wait many more years of playing. With some confusion emerging about Eriksen signing a new contract with Ajax, it is sure that most of the top clubs will vie for his signature in the summer. Wherever he goes, he is destined for greatness.

Amrit Kosaraju

You can read the previous articles in the Rough Diamond series here

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