Say what you like about the dynamic duo that is Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, Tottenham Hotspur are some way from playing attractive football.
Effective? Absolutely, in fact, there aren’t many teams in the Premier League who are as good at doing ‘what they do’ as Spurs are. But attractive? Not particularly.
That’s far from a criticism – plenty of ‘pretty’ football teams sit below Jose Mourinho’s side in the Premier League table. However, the Portuguese tactician’s decision to pack his midfield with combative, powerful players has certainly seen a change in the way they play the game.
However, is it his decision? Or is it a style of play he’s been forced to build upon? While Mourinho has always been renowned for his ability to grind out results by any means necessary, the worrying dip in form of Dele Alli has meant he simply doesn’t have the option of a silky, creative midfielder.
Recent reports have linked Spurs with a move for RB Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, while the club are also rumoured to be contemplating a sensational move for Christian Eriksen, just a year after he left north London for San Siro. Mourinho is clearly keen to add some guile to his powerhouse midfield, but who should he choose?
We’ve taken a look at both players before deciding which would be the best option for Spurs.
Let’s start off with the basic logistics of the respective deals.
RB Leipzig are no mugs when it comes to negotiating transfers, and they’re rumoured to be demanding a fee of £45m before they’ll even entertain the possibility of parting ways with Sabitzer.
The Austrian is under contract at the Bundesliga outfit until 2022 – meaning he’s still got 18 months left to run on his current deal – so while Leipzig aren’t exactly in a position to demand anything they want, though they’re still far from under pressure to sell.
Having moved to Italy less than a year ago, Eriksen’s time at Inter already seems destined to come to an end.
Inter haven’t placed a price tag on the head of their wantaway midfielder, though reports suggest a bid of around £25m would be enough to secure his services – not a bad little £8m profit considering he’s done absolutely nothing since joining the club.
Unlike Sabitzer, Eriksen has a long time remaining on his current deal with Inter, having signed a four-and-a-half year deal when he moved to San Siro in January 2020.
Sabitzer’s quality from long range is one of his main attributes, whether it be in open play or from set pieces. The 26-year-old has a wicked delivery and has proven to have quality with both his left and right foot, while his goalscoring stats are very impressive for a midfielder, having bagged 43 in 194 for Leipzig.
Eriksen’s qualities are no secret to anyone who follows Premier League football, with the Denmark international proving time and time again to be Spurs’ match-winner during his time in north London.
His low centre of gravity and ability to seamlessly shift the ball from left to right make him a nightmare to defend against, and he too has shown he’s more than capable of notching double figures for the season when he’s playing to the best of his ability.
BUT, the latter part of that sentence is the big problem…
While Eriksen’s qualities are undoubted, he’s not shown them for some time now.
Having looked frankly disinterested in his final few moths at Spurs, the Dane hasn’t got going since moving to Inter. He’s made just four starts in Serie A this campaign, has completed 90 minutes in the league just twice since his move to San Siro and has just three league goals to his name in the last 18 months.
Meanwhile, Sabizter is a player at the top of his game who’s playing regularly for Leipzig in both the Bundesliga and the Champions League.
Not only would he be much sharper than Eriksen, he’s also in much better form, having scored as many league goals in the last three months as the Inter man has managed in 18 months.
When Eriksen is playing at the top of his game he could be an asset to just about every team in Europe, and if anyone could see him back to his best it’s Mourinho.
However, Spurs don’t have time to wait for players to get back to their best. This season represents a brilliant opportunity to put their silverware hoodoo to bed, with the league wide open, a Carabao Cup final on the horizon and the Europa League far from out of the question.
While Eriksen would definitely be the cheaper option of the two, he’s two years older than Sabitzer, hasn’t played regularly for a long time and may well never return to the Eriksen of three or four years ago. At 26, Sabitzer still has time to develop, is in fine form and already looks a top player.
It really is a no brainer.