Amidst my daily quest to kill boredom during the lockdown, I found myself reliving an epic Champions League game earlier this week.
It was the Tottenham vs Inter Milan Champions League group stage game, the tie which ultimately began Gareth Bale’s rise to one of the Premier League’s best players. As the 21-year-old utterly destroyed Brazilian fullback Maicon, arguably the best right-back in the world at the time. 

I particularly remember watching this game in late 2010, indeed, my young football-hungry self got one of my first glimpses of one highly-rated youngster in Philippe Coutinho, who made a  26-Minute cameo with Inter already 2-nil down. 

This almost 10-year-old fixture then cast my mind to Coutinho’s subsequent memorable spell in the Premier League which began three years later; incidentally the same year Christian Eriksen signed for Tottenham as one of the many signings following Bale’s world-record move to Real Madrid.

Philippe Coutinho

The Brazilian joined The Reds from Inter in January 2013 and quickly hit the ground running with his creativity and technical qualities.

Coutinho became a huge catalyst behind Liverpool’s return to the top of the English game following a brief decline and subsequent change of ownership due to financial issues in the early 2010s. He was a rare beacon of hope as well as entertainment after those forgettable years in Merseyside.

His dribbling, agility, vision, and skill coupled with a spectacular shooting ability marked Coutinho out as one of the very best attacking midfielders in the world. His accurate freekicks and long-range curlers served a delight to Premier League fans, he was duly recognized with a Team of the Year appearance in 2015.

Coutinho now turns out for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. (Pixathlon/REX)

Coutinho would appear in 152 Premier League games, registering 41 goals and 37 assists for Liverpool. Although he left The Reds for Barcelona rather unceremoniously in January 2018, Coutinho remains the second-highest scoring Brazilian in Premier League history, behind only Roberto Firmino (56).
Eriksen joined Inter in January. (Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Christian Eriksen

Signed by Tottenham for £11M from Ajax in the summer of 2013, Eriksen was by far the most successful Tottenham arrival of the spending spree immediately after Bale’s exit. The highly-rated Denmark international became Tottenham’s craftsman and the creator-in-chief of the goals which pushed Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min to stardom under Mauricio Pochettino’s revolution in North London.
10 – Christian Eriksen is just the second player to assist 10+ Premier League goals in four successive seasons, after David Beckham between 1997-98 and 2000-01. Generosity. #LIVTOT

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 31, 2019

 The Great Dane is responsible for the most chances created in the Premier League since his debut with 571, a mammoth 20 above Mesut Ozil, with Eden Hazard, David Silva, and Willian completing the top five. Eriksen’s 62 League assists are also the most by anyone else in that period. 

The midfield dynamo marked his superiority with his incredible vision, pinpoint passing accuracy, ability to create and exploit spaces with his runs as well as his set-piece prowess. It goes without saying that Eriksen scored the most direct freekick goals in his time in the Premier League (eight), three ahead of Coutinho.

Eriksen holds the record for most Premier League goals by a Danish player having surpassed Nicklas Bendtner’s record of 32 in 2017; as his superb performances in the 2017/18 season earned Eriksen a spot in the PFA Team of the Year.

Coutinho and Eriksen were similarly excellent in their vision, range of passing, technical abilities, set-piece prowess, creativity and eye for goal (as well as the spectacular).
The pair are classic “number 10s” who took the Premier League by storm and defined a little era. Indeed, with Eden Hazard now playing for Real Madrid and David Silva in his final year at City, the Premier League has seen the very end of its most creative players in the last few years.

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Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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