With Christian Eriksen’s contract expiring in the summer, he has been linked with the majority of Europe’s major clubs. Ever since the transfer saga of last summer, Eriksen has struggled to regain match-winning form. This tactical analysis will analyse Christian Eriksen’s tactical role for any potential suitors.
Across the 2019/20 season, Eriksen has made 19 Premier League appearances scoring twice with two assists. As recently as the summer, Daniel Levy was demanding £80 million for Eriksen to move to Real Madrid. However, he has not adapted to fit into José Mourinho’s tactics and is on the verge of leaving Tottenham Hotspur.
Internazionale are now the favourites to sign the Danish international as they look to challenge Juventus in Serie A. This scout report looks at Christian Eriksen’s form this season with a tactical analysis of how he would fit into the Internazionale side.
Christian Eriksen – 2019/20 season
On the face of it, Christian Eriksen is having a poor season at Tottenham Hotspur. He announced his intention to leave in the summer and has struggled to hold a regular starting spot. He has only scored three goals and registered three assists in 27 appearances and has even picked up five yellow cards. However, looking into the detail it isn’t as bad as it initially seems.
Tottenham Hotspur are struggling in the eighth position. Eriksen has only started 10 games in all competitions and struggled to make an impact. Whilst we are not going to argue that he is in the form of his life, there are some positive signs for Internazionale fans.
Firstly, looking deeper into the statistics Eriksen is still creating chances for his team-mates. Despite his lack of time on the pitch, he has still registered 28 shot assists with 16 shots on target and 12 accurate crosses. Whilst he may not be putting chances away himself, he is still creating them for his team-mates.
Interestingly, the quality of these chances created by Eriksen is likely to be the problem. Whilst 28 shot assists sounds impressive on paper, Tottenham have actually scored six more goals than expected when using expected goals. This is only bettered by Leicester City in the Premier League and highlights the quality of Tottenham’s attacking players in converting chances.
Expected goals show that Tottenham Hotspur’s attack is one of the leading ones in chance conversion. Therefore, the quality of Eriksen’s shot assists must be questioned. However, with his limited playing time, we’ll look at his overall career statistics before judging if he will prove a good addition to Internazionale.
Christian Eriksen’s career statistics
Christian Eriksen has played 470 games as a professional registering 106 goals and 154 assists. At a high level, he scores once in every 4.5 games and assists once in every three games. A club looking to buy him will increase their chance creation and chance conversion in the final third. These statistics are also consistent across Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur showing that consistency is a key metric for him.
He is deployed best as an attacking midfielder but also has the versatility to play across the midfield. His heatmap shows that he plays most often through the centre but is comfortable operating on both flanks. This prevents him from becoming predictable and shows the strength of him being two-footed.
His heatmap also shows that he isn’t afraid of the defensive side of the game. He drops deep when his team needs support. This is supported through the fact that he has won 41% of his duels.
Tactical analysis suggests he’ll have a positive impact on retaining possession with an 81.5% passing accuracy. He contributes in the final third with 39% of his shots on target. He’s also a set-piece specialist which will provide an extra dimension to a team’s attacking threat.
He singlehandedly sent Denmark to the World Cup in 2018 with a hattrick against the Republic of Ireland in the play-offs. However, he was part of the Tottenham Hotspur team that lost the 2019 Champions League Final and also blew their chance of the Premier League title in 2016. So would he fit into Internazionale’s tactics?
How are Internazionale performing this season?
Internazionale are second in Serie A and still in the Coppa Italia. They have dropped out of the Champions League and are in the Europa League knockouts. There is still an opportunity for them to end the season with silverware.
On average, Internazionale enjoy 50% possession with 39% of their shots on target and an 86% passing accuracy. Pundits would have us believe that they are signing Eriksen to increase their creativity. However, it could be argued that he might not offer anything different in the final third. On average, Internazionale have better passing accuracy at 86% and enjoy similar statistics with shots on target.
Our tactical analysis also looks at expected goals. Internazionale are currently 5th in Serie A for expected goals on 36.77. They are 5th in terms of goal conversions scoring 4.23 more goals than expected. However, they are 6.67 points better off than expected when using expected goals and expected goals against.
This analysis shows that Internazionale are converting chances. The recruitment team want Eriksen to provide better quality chances. Throughout his career, he has assisted once in every three games and even in a disappointing 2019/20 season has provided 28 shot assists. Whilst Tottenham Hotspur has had the second-best shot conversion in the Premier League, Internazionale’s recruitment staff clearly see the possibilities Eriksen can provide.
Internazionale’s tactical system
This scout report continues to look at how Christian Eriksen will fit into Internazionale’s tactics.
Looking at their most recent game against Lecce, Internazionale’s lineup was a 3-5-2 with wing-backs high and three central midfielders deeper. Marcelo Brozović provided the anchor in midfield with Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella providing the attacking intent. Wing-backs Cristiano Biraghi and Antonio Candreva lined up much higher, providing the attacking threat, and had the licence to join Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez in the attack.
However, as the game develops you can see that Stefano Sensi has the freedom to play much further forward. This could provide an opportunity for Christian Eriksen to provide the offensive role in a midfield three. He is comfortable operating anywhere in attacking midfield in a 4-2-3-1 at Tottenham Hotspurs, and it would suggest that this attacking freedom can be found at Internazionale as part of a three-man midfield.
How can Christian Eriksen adapt to Internazionale’s tactical system?
Throughout this scout report, we have analysed Internazionale’s tactics and also Christian Eriksen’s tactical role. We’ll now look to move onto how Christian Eriksen can add a different dimension to Internazionale’s team.
The first is his quality at set-pieces. Christian Eriksen can provide an alternative attacking threat from a dead ball. Above, he dispatches a free-kick into the top corner against an in-form Norwich City. This demonstrates his quality to score from set-pieces and provide a cutting-edge in the final third.
His set-piece delivery can also provide assists. Internazionale have scored eight goals from set-pieces this season which is second only to AS Roma. This shows the importance Antonio Conte places on set-pieces. Providing an alternative option with such quality will allow Internazionale to capitalise on these opportunities.
In the example above, Christian Eriksen delivers the ball into the box resulting in a goal. His quality of delivery enables the Tottenham Hotspur players to time their run and finish. This quality of delivery at set-pieces will allow Internazionale to fine-tune their set-piece routines to become more effective.
Internazionale prefer a short passing game. They average 457 passes per game opposed to 55 long balls. However, Eriksen’s accuracy over long passes will enable them to switch the side of attack and unsettle opposition defences.
His ability to unsettle defences with long passes can be seen above. Christian Eriksen switches play to release Son Heung-min one on one with the full-back. After a series of short passes, this change in tempo catches Olympiakos by surprise and creates a chance on goal. This alternative threat will add an additional dimension to Internazionale’s tactical system.
Christian Eriksen’s form this season has been hampered by his desire to move away from London. His return of two goals and two assists for an entire season is less than desirable for a creative attacking player.
Last season, in the Premier League, he scored eight goals with 12 assists. This offensive threat is what is attracting Internazionale. Christian Eriksen will have to adapt to a new formation, although Tottenham Hotspur have used the 3-5-2 tactics sporadically. It is likely he will have to operate in a three-man midfield, providing the attacking threat rather than in an attacking midfield role. However, this is something that is easily attainable for him, as this scout report has shown.
Christian Eriksen may have lost interest in the Tottenham Hotspur project. However, the opportunity to challenge for honours in Italy and the latter stages of the Champions League will provide the catalyst to get his career back on track.