Is Christian Eriksen eyeing up a move in January?
The Denmark international is prime transfer rumour bait—a young and exceedingly skillful playmaker currently plying his trade outside of one of Europe's biggest leagues.
Ajax remain a top club—and are currently enjoying one of their healthiest spells of the last decade—but as has been the case for many years, their top players (notably products of their famed youth system) will inevitably be whisked away by clubs promising more competitive weekly football.
The case of Eriksen is not so clear cut—not right now, at least.
Despite suggestions of an imminent move away from Amsterdam in various media outlets, he has been hesitant to express an explicit desire to leave.
Asked last week in an interview with English newspaper The Guardian whether he intended to make a switch, Eriksen replied, "I don't think so," adding:
If something really exciting is coming, maybe you would look at it. But my feeling now is take it easy and see when it comes.
Despite his status as one of the next big things of European football, at 20 years old there is a significant decision to be made on his part over whether a transfer as soon as January is in his best interest.
Two of Ajax's most renowned, recent former-youth products—Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart—moved abroad when they were 23 and 22, respectively.
It might not seem like much, but two to three years can be a significant period of time for a maturing player in terms of experience both on and off the pitch.
Eriksen might not wait so long, but he—and those around him whose judgement he values—might deem it worthwhile seeing out the current season with Ajax at least. A third consecutive Dutch title would be a fine way to sign off his stay at the club.
That some clubs have been burned by players signed from the Eredivisie who have not lived up to the hype may put off potential suitors anyway, at least while they continue to run a further eye over Eriksen.
His youth is something to consider. Despite the hope for his prospects and his already considerable talent, bringing in a kid who is only 20 has risks attached to it, too.
Tottenham are an intriguing possible next club for Eriksen.
Jan Vertonghen is an entirely different player, but his initial success since arriving in North London may have warmed the Spurs hierarchy in preparing another raid for one of Ajax's stars.
The Belgian defender last week publicly shared his belief that his former teammate would be well suited to life at White Hart Lane.
Whether that was an innocent response to a question or Vertonghen playing his part in laying the groundwork for a potential move we probably will not find out, but there is undoubtedly a certain logic to Spurs going after Eriksen.
They are a club looking to break into the elite within the Premier League and Europe. Eriksen is a calculated gamble they may be prepared to make in order to improve the quality of their squad.
They may see now as the best time to make their move and get the jump on other clubs still evaluating him, as they did with Gareth Bale when signing from Southampton in 2007.
Beyond long-term aspirations (and considering the wait-and-see approach as to how good he will be), Eriksen is the type of player that Andre Villas-Boas would likely be able to get some use out of in the present, too.
Although Spurs are not short on attacking midfielders, by signing Eriksen they would be signalling their belief they are upgrading on those currently at their disposal (and it would be a compelling watch to see if that turned out to be the case).
Should a bid come in for him, the Dane would have a big decision to make.
He could follow Vertonghen's lead and buy into the plans Villas-Boas and Tottenham have to progress, and if nothing else the Premier League would be a good shop window for further opportunities down the line.
But if their pitch does not appeal, he has to decide if staying at Ajax beyond this season is okay for him.
The indications are that this would be the case, and if he is as good as many are presuming, the right move at one of Europe's top clubs will come soon enough.
All the same, do not be surprised if Spurs make him one of their primary targets in January.