Manchester United legend Paul Scholes has hailed Christian Eriksen as the perfect example of an intelligent midfielder.
The Red Devils icon made his name between 1994 and 2013 as one of the club’s greatest-ever attacking midfielders as his vision and creativity in the middle of the park allowed their flair players to show their quality.
Now 47, Scholes was talking to friend and former teammate Gary Neville about what he values in a player and picked out the Danish superstar as the perfect example of what a player in the middle of the park should be doing.
Asked by Neville what he looks for in a player, Scholes told The Overlap: “The intelligence. Clever players. Clever players with a brain.
Asked about Eriksen, Scholes said: “Brilliant. The perfect example of a player who plays with intelligence and plays with his brain. He’s just a clever player. He knows where he is on the pitch and he knows where other people are on the pitch.”
Discussing the tendency for midfield players to pass the ball backwards to their defenders, Scholes added: “That’s the problem I saw.
“They got beaten by somebody and it’s a bit harsh on Scott [McTominay] and Fred, but they were just back to goal all of the time. You talk about people receiving the ball with their back to goal, it’s the only way that they could go.
“You should be on the half-turn, so that I can still see you, but I can see my forward as well.
“You see Casemiro do it. Eriksen does it all of the time. You see the goal they scored against Arsenal, Eriksen received it on the half-turn, passed it to Fernandes who was on the half-turn and Rashford scores.
“Small things like that just annoy me because if you’re playing at Manchester United you should be capable of doing that. You’d expect that.”
Scholes was asked a number of quick-fire questions and named Liverpool’s Anfield and Newcastle’s St James’ Park as the away grounds that he loved playing at, before making a surprising admission about his famous long-range effort against Barcelona in the Champions League.
Picking up the ball at Old Trafford in the semi-finals of Europe’s biggest competition 2008, Scholes lashed an effort into the top corner of the net to send them into the final, but admitted that his effort didn’t exactly go as planned.
He said: “It was a miskick. It came off the outside of my foot!
“You know when you’re trying to hit it that way, with a bit of fade on it, it should go outside of the post and then into the other corner really.
“I wasn’t thinking of doing that, I was just thinking of hitting the target, to be honest with you, but when it goes towards the goalkeeper and that way, you don’t mean that. No chance.”
Asked if it was the most important goal that he scored, Scholes said: “It was the most important goal, yeah.”
Looking forward, football has a number of up-and-coming talents for people to aspire to emulate.
Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland look like the main contenders to battle it out for the best player in the world tag, but according to Scholes, it’s the Frenchman who is marginally more impressive.
Scholes said: “I’d go Mbappe. I think there’s more to his game [than Haaland], he’s not just an out-and-out centre-forward, is he?
“He can go wide, he can dribble past people, he’s quick, he can play one-twos. Look, Haaland is f***ing amazing, don’t get me wrong, but he is a goalscorer, isn’t he?”
Watch the World Cup with talkSPORT
At talkSPORT we are powered by fans, so come and join us for the ultimate World Cup fan experience this winter – at the talkSPORT Fan Zone.
In a huge indoor venue under the arches at Waterloo in London, we’ll bring you live screenings of every World Cup game.
There will be Q&As with talkSPORT talent, you’ll be part of our live broadcasts, and there will be plenty of food and drink on offer too.
Come and enjoy the best World Cup fan experience in London – and enjoy a pint on us – with tickets for England and Wales’ group stage games on sale now HERE!