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Saints could have snapped up Spurs starlet
Christian Eriksen could line up for Tottenham at St Mary’s this weekend – but he could have been playing for Saints.
The attacking midfielder moved to White Hart Lane from Ajax in the summer, for a fee around £11.5m.
Five years ago, however, the Dane could have been arriving at Saints after Mark Wotte recommended the club sign him.
Wotte, who initially joined as academy director before becoming head coach, had seen Eriksen in action for one of his country’s youth sides.
Impressed by what he had seen, he told Saints they should snap up the teenager, who was then at Danish outfit OB.
“I told the club and (former chairman) Rupert Lowe that I had identified a fantastic kid after seeing England Under-17s getting beaten by Denmark Under-17s, with Eriksen as the star of that team,” explained Wotte.
“My information was that we could sign him for around €1m, although he was only 16 at that time.
“According to his agent, they were looking for a club with a great reputation of bringing through youngsters, so Southampton was definitely to be considered.
“He had been on trials at Chelsea and AC Milan, but those clubs didn’t appeal to him at that time.”
Saints, however, could not afford to pay for Eriksen.
“We had just signed Morgan Schneiderlin for a similar fee, so Rupert told me that it wasn’t possible for financial reasons to progress on it,” said Wotte, who now works as the Scottish FA’s performance director.
As it turned out, Eriksen joined Ajax in October 2008.
Saints will certainly have no regrets about having already bought Schneiderlin, another of Wotte’s recommendations, with the Frenchman having played a key role in the club’s rise from League One to the Premier League, and blossoming into one of the top-flight’s most impressive midfielders.
They might, however, get a chance to see what they could also have had, with Eriksen in with a chance of playing when the teams meet on Sunday.
The 21-year-old, who had been in eye-catching form for Spurs, has been out with an ankle injury for the last month.
However, he has now returned to training and is in contention to feature this weekend.
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