Three months on from the world record sale of Neymar to Paris Saint Germain, La Liga giants Barcelona are still yet to replace the Brazilian – despite their best efforts to sign Liverpool’s Phillipe Coutinho last summer.
Come January, many expect Ernesto Valverde to swoop in once again for the 25-year-old, although could their efforts be better served elsewhere?
Take Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen. He has been involved in eight of their 28 league goals so far this season, as well as boasting a pass success rate of 82 percent from 630 passes.
While he may not get as many headlines as Coutinho, the Dane will likely cost half the price of the Brazilian and has matched the attacking midfielder’s goal tally of four so far this season.
It’s true that a team like Barcelona needn’t concern themselves with a certain player’s price tag, however they do demand a particular type of player.
Although Eriksen is not a like for like replacement of Neymar, he does have the credentials needed to perform alongside the elite.
His vision and technique are second to none and are exactly what are needed to work in the confined spaces in which a team like Barcelona must play.
The Tottenham playmaker would fit into the passing ethos implemented at Camp Nou and would continue to thrive partnering with the defensive surety of Sergio Busquets in midfield, as well as feeding the masterclass which is Lionel Messi.
Whereas Coutinho and Barcelona might not be the perfect fit. Of course, he has the flair and dribbling ability to help plug the hole left by his Brazilian counterpart, but his inconsistency remains an underlying factor.
When playing for such an illustrious club, the level of performances week in, week out need to be of the highest quality, otherwise he could well find himself side-lined.
Dmytro Chygrynskiy is a perfect example. The Ukranian centre-back was bought into Barcelona while Pep Guardiola was in charge in a bid to shore up his previously leaky back line.
The defender turned out to be one of the biggest flops in the club’s history. He went on to make two appearances in his one season there before moving to Shaktar Donetsk the following season.
On the other hand, Eriksen has shown in recent times that he is a player who can live up to the hype and expectation, especially when it comes to the big games.
He single-handedly sent Denmark to the World Cup in Russia. It was his hat-trick in Denmark’s second-leg 5-1 qualifier win over Ireland which displayed his brilliance to devastating effect.
To play so well in a game of such magnitude separates him from the other top midfielders the Premier League has to offer.
The former Ajax man had previously come under criticism when playing for his national team, but has now scored 15 in his last 18 for the Danes and looks in no mood to stop.
While his performances may have started to reach their peak following relentless starts for Spurs, he looks as though he is still refining his game. At the age of 25, he has benefited from the guidance of club manager; Mauricio Pochettino, and has become one of the key figures to have instigated Tottenham’s rise.
As for Barcelona, they may not be experiencing the plummet so many predicted. They sit five points clear at the top of La Liga and are through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.
However, there comes a time when old problems will come back to haunt them and, when they do, will they opt for more of the same with Coutinho or a more pragmatic approach with Eriksen? Only time will tell.