Real Madrid’s midfield has been the root of it’s domestic and international success for years. In recent seasons, the trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro has been a force like no other. But the dynamic is slowly changing, naturally suggesting for the club to prepare for an adjustment.
Every transfer window, winter or summer, the rumour mill generates multiple possible transfers and one name that made some of the biggest waves was Christian Eriksen.
After positive spells with Ajax in the Eredivisie and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, Eriksen (27) has developed into one of footballs most versatile midfielders.
As a result, the Dane was thought to be the next addition to head coach Zinedine Zidane’s team and would help lead the midfield turnover at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. But now, he has signed a 17 million euro deal with Inter Milan until 2024 all but eliminating that possibility.
Have Real Madrid let a golden opportunity slip away?
During his time in England, Eriksen’s talents were crucial to the success of the Spurs. Former head coach Mauricio Pochettino relied on him to keep the team moving forward in their games – he was most notably a huge asset in helping them reach the final of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League.
When looking at his individual quality, Eriksen plays with impeccable vision, has strong passing skills, was reliable on set pieces, and easily handled the ball. Prior to moving to Italy, these talents were once considered to accompany and eventually replace those of Kroos. In 305 games for Tottenham, Eriksen scored 69 goals and provided 89 assists and the numbers are comparable to the German’s (269, 17, 65).
So after not signing the player, where does Real sit in terms of preparing for the inevitable reconstruction of their midfield?
If he remains in charge, it seems as though Zidane will be relying on the quality of the team’s plethora of young talent to strengthen and lead the future midfield.
Current first-team player Fede Valverde looks like to be an up and coming leader at the club and Real Sociedad loanee Martin Odegaard (21) should eventually bring his skill back to the Bernabeu. Dani Ceballos (23) also has the ability to be called back from Arsenal while Brahim Diaz (20) and new-signing Reinier (18) are still strong contenders.
However, transitioning from the staple midfield of Kroos, Modric and Casemiro to three less experienced 20-somethings might not be as seamless as thought out to be. The shift in responsibility alone is immense.
So far this season, Valverde (21) has been competing against Modric (34) for a starting spot and has had some pretty influential performances. The Croatian’s contract ends this year in June so regarding the transition, there might be a straight swap if Modric doesn’t renew.
In comparison, the contracts for Kroos (30) and Casemiro (27) continue on to 2023 and over the next three years Real will need to find a way to introduce a new midfield should they depart from the club. Slotting in a player with Eriksen’s quality would have helped ease that situation.
Signing the Danish international for a fairly small price tag would have given Real a decade of experience to help tie the team over until Valverde and Odegaard can confidently handle the responsibility of continuing Real’s midfield reputation.
Other teams have opted to follow the same technique when reconstructing a large portion of their squad.
Of course, Isco, James Rodriguez, might be able to help fill the slots but that depends if they stay in Spain for that long. The rumour mill also has Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek as potential transfers but those are still yet to be confirmed.
Yet, while Real Madrid may have missed out on the chance to begin their midfield revolution, it doesn’t that mean the club won’t be able to create a strong group in the future.
Whether the transition is done smoothly is a different story.