Eriksen is Tottenham's new galactico
Tottenham Hotspur were accused of throwing away a fortune in the transfer market last summer, but among the failures stood one undoubted success story.
When Christian Eriksen was picked up for just 11 million pounds, the price sounded cheap for a player who had been tipped for the top from an early age. After a season in which Eriksen contributed 10 goals and 13 assists, the fee looked like a steal.
It took Eriksen some time to find his feet at Tottenham, but by the end of the season he was absolutely flying. Mainly employed in a left-sided role from which he could roam infield, Eriksen became the lone creative threat in a struggling Spurs side.
The conventional wisdom dictated that having turned a difficult start into a successful debut season, Eriksen would hit the ground running this time around. Yet football rarely provides us with such a linear narrative.
Mauricio Pochettino's arrival at White Hart Lane this summer signalled a new tactical direction for the side. The Argentine has imposed his hard-pressing style on Tottenham, and it's a system that demands lots of hard work from the attacking midfielders employed in the 4-2-3-1 formation.
Those three attacking midfielders are not only expected to constantly close down the opposition when the side loses possession, but to also play in a fluid system in which they have freedom to shift position. That means Eriksen will often find himself in wide midfield positions from which it will be his responsibility to chase around after marauding full-backs.
Eriksen may have frequently played on the left last season, but he gave scant protection to the full-back behind him. His tendency to drift inside to try and take control of the game often resulted in Danny Rose or Kyle Naughton being exposed by more than just their own weaknesses.
A challenge for the Dane this season is to improve his defensive contributions while remaining an attacking threat. This may be made more difficult by the return to prominence of Erik Lamela. In preseason Lamela has started on the right, only to drift infield into Eriksen's territory.
Eriksen has not looked so influential in preseason and many Spurs fans are questioning how he fits into Pochettino's system. The challenges in front of Eriksen may mean that he takes longer to flourish this season than previously anticipated, but I have no doubt that he will eventually succeed.
The reason is simple: he possesses a superior talent to all but Lamela in the Tottenham squad. The difference between the two is that Eriksen has proved his talent on the pitch for Spurs, while Lamela's still only exists in the form of YouTube clips from his Roma days.
Eriksen -- like Lamela -- had an indifferent game against Schalke, but nevertheless provided the game with its outstanding memory. In the second half, Eriksen was moving away from goal, midway in the opposition half, only to play an amazing reverse pass that cut the German defence to ribbons. It was a breathtaking moment.
He wasn't even facing the right direction, yet Eriksen still had the awareness to know where everyone was and the skill to judge the pass perfectly. It's the sort of talent I've seen from the likes of Glenn Hoddle, Paul Gascoigne and Luka Modric, but few other midfielders at Tottenham
Eriksen will be a success this season for two reasons. For one, he seems a committed and determined character, who much like Gareth Bale, will take his talents to the very top of the game. Secondly, he is Pochettino's most dangerous attacking outlet.
Go back and study Bale's and Modric's time at Tottenham. Both struggled to find the position where they could be at their best for Spurs. Their managers kept tinkering to provide them with the right platform because they had faith in two outstanding individuals.
The system will work for Eriksen. He has the talent, the dedication and a manager who needs to get the optimum from his best player. The only question is how much will Real Madrid eventually pay for Eriksen, and which of their current Galacticos will make way?