In the long run, summer 2022 will perhaps be renowned for being the transfer window in which Erling Haaland completed a blockbuster move to Manchester City, or for Robert Lewandowski’s switch from Bavaria to Barcelona.
However, one particular signing which has gone significantly under the radar is Christian Eriksen’s free transfer to Manchester United. After much speculation surrounding his future, the Danish international put pen to paper on a three-year deal at Old Trafford after leaving Brentford at the end of last season.
Eriksen joined Brentford in January on a short-term deal and he proved a key component in the second half of their 2021/22 season, scoring one goal and providing four assists in 11 games, which helped the Bees to a 13th-place finish (11 points above the relegation zone) in the club’s debut Premier League campaign.
Having already represented a handful of top football clubs across Europe – namely Ajax, Tottenham and Inter Milan – Eriksen now dons the badge of one of the most recognisable sporting institutions in the world: Man United. The very fact that the 30-year-old is alive, healthy and able to play football is a heavenly miracle given what transpired at the European Championships just over 12 months ago.
Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the field of play during Denmark's Euro 2020 opener against Finland. The midfielder received life-saving CPR before being rushed to a local hospital in Copenhagen, where he was stabilized. Many feared for the worst, including Eriksen's teammates who were visibly in shock for the duration of their encounter at the Parken Stadium.
Despite Eriksen's absence, the Danes rallied back from their defeat to Finland and they went on to reach the semifinals of a major tournament for the first time in almost 30 years. Beyond the Euros question marks remained over the career – and life – of Eriksen.
A return to football seemed beyond the realms of possibility but, remarkably, Eriksen was given the all-clear to resume playing. He was fitted with an implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), which meant he could not continue playing for Inter due to Serie A rules against defibrillators. The Italian club terminated Eriksen's contract in December last year and he completed a return to the Premier League at the end of January.
Upon signing for Man United last month, Eriksen was expected to provide strong competition for Bruno Fernandes however both players have been on the pitch together for all but three minutes of United's opening two league matches. Eriksen started in each of the first two games this term albeit he has so far been deployed in a deeper role rather than in his preferred position as an attacking midfielder sitting 'in the hole' behind the forwards.
Prior to the start of the current season, Eriksen had 237 Premier League appearances to his name with 52 goals and 66 assists, and since 2013 only Kevin De Bruyne has created more chances in the English top flight.
Eriksen has endured a shaky start to his chapter at United and he had a disappointing cameo on return to Brentford in the Red Devils’ most recent outing, but he still has plenty of time to come right. More players of his ilk, quality, and experience need to be added to Erik ten Hag’s ranks if the United manager is to turn around his early misfortunes.
Eriksen adds serious quality in depth, which United are desperately crying out for at the moment. Following the club's worst Premier League season, this is Eriksen's opportunity to add something different into the mix as the red half of Manchester seeks to end its trophy drought going on six years.