Christian Eriksen (19) is on the eve of his second full season with Ajax. Two and a half years ago, he made his debut with the selection in Portugal. 40 competition matches, a cup and a championship later, Eriksen wants more. The Danish international wants to become more important for Ajax. He discussed his ambitions during the training camp in Germany.
After the training, Christian Eriksen takes time for a short geography lesson. After Rasmus Lindgren’s (Sweden) departure, and Kolbeinn Sighthórsson’s arrival, Ajax’s Scandinavian content has remained the same. Or has it? “Icelanders, Scandinavians? No, they’re not really Scandinavians. They don’t speak Danish. And we don’t speak Icelandic. Fortunately, Kolbeinn and I both speak English and Dutch.”
It’s clear that the Danes are in the majority at Ajax. They also have – with Eriksen leading – the most long-standing rights. Kolbeinn Sigthórsson will be the first Icelander in the history of Ajax, and he’ll have to live with it. Ajax’s new forward handles the Scandinavian teasing well. Helped, of course, by his Danish team mates. “Kolbeinn is a good guy.”
Eriksen takes Sigthórsson, who is two years older than him, under his wing during his first days at Ajax. They know each other from the Denmark -Iceland interlands from last month. They met with both the national team and the European Cup U-21. “I beat him with the Danish team, but lost with Young Denmark. That defeat cost us dearly, as we were eliminated from the European Cup by it.”
Eriksen has been chomping at the bit for a week to start with Ajax again. “Three weeks off are more than enough for me. I’ve been waiting all week for Monday to come. I was really looking forward to starting again.” The early elimination from the European Cup U-21 didn’t spoil Eriksen’s holiday. On the contrary, the Dane had a great time. “I wasn’t that disappointed by the elimination from the European Cup U-21. Naturally I’d hoped for more, especially in my own country. But because of our home advantage, there was a lot of pressure on us in Denmark. But I’ve especially got a great feeling because of my first championship with Ajax. We’re going to defend the title this year, and that’s a good challenge.”
Next to defending the title, Eriksen also wants to secure his own place. Although the midfielder has been a regular fixture with coach Frank de Boer, the Dane knows all too well that the competition has increased. With the arrival of Mats Rits and Thulani Serero, there are now more midfielders to choose from. Derk Boerrigter, Theo Janssen, Sigthórsson and the returning (loaned out) player Jan-Arie van der Heijden will provide more internal competition with the national champion. Eriksen: “Of course, there will be lots of competition at midfield. I have to face it head on. I can’t assume that I’ll be playing. It’s too easy for me to say that I’ve built up an advantage from last season. We’re starting fresh. When you prepare for a new season, everyone starts off as equals.”
Eriksen has enough dreams for next season. “I want to improve in all areas this year. More goals, more assists, and becoming more important for the team. I want to have a steady season on all fronts. I’m going to take that step in my development.” The Scandinavian will happily sent his assists to Sigthórsson. “After the matches between our national teams, we’re more or less on the same foot. From this season, we need to pull together to win it all with Ajax.”