Jose Mourinho has admitted that the situation surrounding Christian Eriksen and his new contract is impacting the Danish playmaker.
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Eriksen, 27, is out of contract this summer and put in another subpar display as he was jeered off the pitch when substituted in Spurs’ 1-0 defeat against Liverpool on Saturday.
Speaking ahead of their FA Cup third round replay against Middlesbrough on Tuesday, in which Eriksen will start, Mourinho delivered his thoughts on Eriksen’s poor form.
“If you ask me if I think this is the best Christian Eriksen, I have to be honest and say no,” Eriksen said. “If you ask me the reasons, I am not an idiot, I know clearly a player in his situation is not a player, even if he wants… I am not blaming the player, I am not criticizing the player it is normal that a player in this situation doesn’t perform at the highest level. I can also say he is helping us in matches he is playing with us. He had positive performances and contributions, the game against Olympiakos which was fundamental for us to qualify and we were 2-0 down. The same against Norwich. I also think the same that you probably think, I also probably think what the fans think about the game. He didn’t have a very good performance against Liverpool, I have to agree with that.”
Is this the final shove out of the door that Eriksen has been waiting for?
With Spurs losing him in the summer for nothing, unless he has a miraculous turnaround and signs a new deal, then should they cut their losses and let him leave now?
Eriksen’s representatives are said to be in talks with Inter Milan over a four-and-a-half year deal, as he can now speak to non-UK clubs about arriving in the summer a la Aaron Ramsey at Arsenal last January. However, it is believed both Eriksen and Inter want to seal the move in January but why would the latter pay big money to sign him this month when they can get him for free in a few months time?
Inter are pushing to win the Serie A title, so that is why, but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has previously been unwilling to show much of a soft spot for any players wanting to leave Tottenham on their own terms. Maybe Eriksen’s poor displays all season long will change his mind on this one, as his departure could open up a spot for a new player to arrive in January.
With Tottenham nine points off the top four, is Champions League qualification now possible?
“Mathematically yes. Of course the distance is important,” Mourinho said. “We don’t need just to win matches, we need opponents to lose matches. We know we are not powerful enough to believe we are going to win every match. We are not powerful enough to be competing in three different competitions. It is a really difficult situation for us. Mathematically it is possible. I prefer to look match after match.”
As for their FA Cup replay against second-tier Middlesbrough (the winner will travel to in-form Southampton in the next round), Mourinho admitted that his squad are being stretched to their limits and only one player will be rested.
“The only player that is not selected is [Toby] Alderweireld. He is the only one I can give a rest to and say take two days off,” Mourinho said.
As for additions, he had no update on Gedson Fernandes, who is expected to sign on an initial 18-month loan from Benfica with an option to buy.
“I am waiting for news, when I say I am waiting, news can come or not,” Mourinho said, coyly. “I am more worried about Middlesbrough than the market. In this moment I am not interested in Gedson or other players who can come.”
He needs additions in midfield and attack and Eriksen, and maybe Vertonghen, to move on as soon as possible as Mourinho’s Spurs are in a slump.
You wouldn’t put it past him to mastermind an FA Cup trophy win or a deep run in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds this season, but at this point a top four finish seems highly likely.