Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood believes the north London club face a battle to hang onto Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen after his impressive first season in the Premier League.
Eriksen has been the success story of a Tottenham spending spree last summer that has failed to yield the rewards the club were hoping for, with their hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League all but extinguished.
Now Sherwood -- whose own future at the club remains clouded in doubt -- has suggested Tottenham may face a battle to hang on to Eriksen, who was outstanding one more in the win against Fulham on Saturday.
"You are always fearful that someone might come and take one of your best players and Christian is certainly one," Sherwood told reporters at White Hart Lane. "I watched him at 17 years of age at Wembley for Denmark and I rang [Tottenham chairman] Daniel Levy the day after and said that he needed to sign this boy -- 10 million pounds later he is finally here, so that is all good news.
"I don’t think he was available [at the time] and I think he wanted to continue his education at Ajax and that is what happened and perhaps Daniel didn’t follow up on it as he does not follow-up on every player I tell him, as there are probably too many. He had a year left at Ajax. He has been great acquisition for the club and they have done well to bring him in. He has just turned 22 and he has a head of a 35-year-old."
Sherwood’s praise of Eriksen saw him compare him to Wimbledon tennis champion Andy Murray, as he highlighted the Dane’s superb work ethic as one of the reasons why he has excelled in his first season in England’s top flight.
"I always say to the guys, 'Andy Murray doesn’t just go out there and hit cross-court winners when game day comes'. You need to practise it as if you don’t, why do you expect to do it on the big stage when the pressure is on you," stated Sherwood. "Christian doesn’t feel the pressure as it is embedded in him as he works so hard on it every day. He is married to the game and is a great guy to work with."
Sherwood also added to the ongoing feud with midfielder Sando, who took to Twitter on Saturday to tell his fans that he was not injured and was merely being left out of the Spurs team by his boss.
Sherwood suggested Sandro’s absence was not a big talking point for Tottenham supporters, as he stood by his decision to overlook the Brazilian midfielder.
"Are there many fans screaming out there ‘why ain’t Sandro playing? I don’t know," he questioned. "If that is what he is trying to say, I am not sure. The squad goes up, I show my hand early. I don’t care about showing my hand.
"I tell them pretty much on the Thursday by the team shape and they know that they are not playing. I don’t expect anyone of them not playing to be happy with it, but I expect them to be professional and work hard to get back into the next squad."