Living at the training ground and performing sprints in an underground car park is no way to adapt to life in a new league and a new country.
Yet a matter of months after joining Inter Milan from Tottenham in January, this is exactly what Christian Eriksen was doing.
When the Dane, who hopes to inspire his country to victory over England in the Nations League on Tuesday, had hoped to have been helping Inter overhaul Juventus at the top of the Serie A table, the coronavirus pandemic caused the suspension of leagues across the world in the spring and turned lives upside down – with Eriksen’s situation particularly unusual.
Christian Eriksen had been living at Inter Milan’s training ground and training in a car park
‘[During part of lockdown] I ended up staying at the club’s training structure with a chef and five members of staff who chose to quarantine themselves in order to protect their families,’ he said.
‘I thought of talking to Romelu Lukaku and Ashley Young, but they already had families to look after, and 14 days sleeping on someone’s sofa is too long.’
‘Later in the year, I was running around the car park basement and calculated I can run 35 metres, then have to take a turn and run 35 metres back.
‘[When I tried to go to the supermarket], police stopped me and in my rather bad Italian I had to explain what I was doing, where I was going and why I was out of the house.’
The Dane hopes to inspire his country to victory over England on Tuesday evening
Eriksen was forced to move into the Appiano Gentile training complex, 25 miles north of Milan, after his city-centre hotel closed due to the pandemic, and the apartment he had chosen was not yet available. When he was allowed to return to Denmark, he had to self-isolate for 14 days, and followed the same quarantine rules when he arrived back in Italy.
Under such circumstances, it is no surprise that Eriksen has had a difficult start in Milan. What does come as a shock is that, according to reports in Italy, Inter boss Antonio Conte is already prepared to listen to offers for Eriksen so he can bring in funds to rebuild his squad elsewhere.
The 28-year-old did not make the XI for Inter’s Europa League Final defeat by Sevilla last month and has started only eight of 17 Serie A matches since he joined. Conte’s apparent lack of faith in Eriksen is curious, given how hard the Inter hierarchy pushed to sign him in January, and Eriksen’s record when coaches trust him.
Eriksen was forced to move into the Appiano Gentile training complex, 25 miles north of Milan
His trophy-laden teenage years at Ajax made Eriksen one of the hottest properties in Europe. While there was no silverware at Spurs during his time there, he was a key member of the side built by Mauricio Pochettino that finished in the Premier League’s top three for three consecutive seasons, and reached the 2019 Champions League Final. He departed with 51 league goals and 62 assists to his name.
Yet Eriksen has been given few opportunities to show his value in Italy. Just when he seemed to be finding rhythm, scoring against Napoli in the Italian Cup and then creating a goal for Lautaro Martinez in the win over Sampdoria, Eriksen was substituted after an hour of a chaotic 3-3 draw against Sassuolo and started only five of the next 15 fixtures.
Whatever the situation at his club, Eriksen has usually been able to produce his best at international level. He is nearing 100 caps for his country – Tuesday’s would be his 96th appearance – and he has 31 goals. Against Gareth Southgate’s men, Eriksen has the perfect chance to remind Conte and Inter exactly why they were so determined to sign him only eight months ago.
Denmark’s Eriksen takes part in a training session at Parken Stadium as he prepares to play
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