Good news for Tottenham fans – Christian Eriksen has been backed to get better and better, and see out that improvement in Spurs colours, according to Danish legend Martin Jorgensen.
The former Udinese and Fiorentina midfielder won the last of his 102 caps playing alongside the teenage Eriksen and has since coached him, as assistant manager of Denmark. So he is an ideal position to judge just how far Eriksen can go, suggesting he might even reach the level of Michael Laudrup, the greatest of all Great Danes.
Eriksen made a spectacular start to pre-season with a long-range strike in Tottenham's 4-2 win over Paris St Germain in Orlando last Saturday.
Although Eriksen has reached double figures in three of his four seasons at Spurs, some argue he could score more goals, although his combined goals and assists figure regularly put him among the Premier League's most creative midfielders.
And Jorgensen says he is close to being on the same level as the best midfielders in Europe. “I think he is almost there,” said the Dane.
“He has to keep playing well for Tottenham. It's important that he is in a team where he is playing just about every game, because he still has something to learn, not a lot, so he has to keep working hard and learning – nothing comes easy.”
Eriksen reportedly turned Manchester City and Barcelona when he joined Spurs from Ajax in 2013 for what now looks like a bargain fee of £11million, and the Catalan club would have to pay a lot more than that were they to try again, as has been speculated this summer.
But Jorgensen believes Eriksen is happy to continue the learning process under Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs.
“I've no idea whether he would be tempted to move to another club,” he said. “But Christian is a good guy, he has a good head, and I think he knows what is best for his career, and I think he is feeling very good at Tottenham.
“When he left Denmark as a young teenager to go to Ajax he was careful about that move, and it was the same when he came to England. He knew he needed to play every week, and he is doing that at Tottenham so it suggests he made the right choice.”
As a goalscoring midfielder, Jorgensen is aware that nothing gets you noticed more than goals. He said: “He is more of an ‘assist' player, tending to look first to set up chances for others. He is unselfish in that respect. But he scored more than ten and made plenty of assists last year. Obviously getting 20 would be better, but it is still a pretty good level he has reached for the past few seasons.”
One disappointment with Eriksen so far has been his patchy form in what was a poor Champions League campaign for Tottenham last year. When Eriksen plays well, Spurs tend to play well, and if Pochettino's men are to progress in this season's Champions League, they need their Danish playmaker to show up on those big European nights.
Jorgensen agrees but adds: “It is not just about him, it's his team-mates as well. We've seen that with the Danish national team. He needs good players around him, and they have to perform at the very top of their game because there are a lot of good teams in Europe.”
Nevertheless, Jorgensen believes Eriksen is destined for the top: “He can go on to the very highest level, but has to be playing in the Champions League regularly or winning trophies.”
Can he do that at Tottenham?
“In the past two seasons Spurs have been getting better and so has he. We will see Tottenham in the top four for years to come if they can keep this squad together.”
John Sivebaek, another Danish great who played for Manchester United and was part of the Denmark team won the European Championship in 1992, agrees: “He is very close to being one of the best midfielders in Europe, if not the world. He will get there in the next two or three years if he continues to progress the way he has done in past few years.
“I think he is in the right place at the moment. He is playing well every week, he is at a very good club in Tottenham, with good team-mates and a great manager.”
And Stig Tofting, another former Danish midfielder who played in the Premier League for Bolton, said: “We Danes have not had a talent like his since Michael Laudrup. He seems to play much better in the Premier League than he does for Denmark, but maybe that is because there is so much more expectation of him in the national team than there is at Tottenham, where there are so many good players around him.
“He is not at Michael Laudrup's level yet, but you can see similarities, the way he moves, create chances and score goals. Laudrup was more of a wide player, but Eriksen can come inside to the centre. He can become a great midfielder.”