Ajax Amsterdam players
Ajax Amsterdam players have been producing scintillating displays in Champions League. Image Credit: Reuters

London: Christian Eriksen’s present meets the Danish midfielder’s past when his former side Ajax travel to Tottenham for the first leg of an unexpected Champions League semi-final for both sides on Tuesday.

But where Eriksen’s future lies will give a good indication of whether times have truly have changed at Spurs.

Ajax arrive in London already in the knowledge that despite reaching a first Champions League semi-final since 1997, they will sell a number of their shining lights this summer and start again.

Frenkie de Jong has already sealed a $85 million move to Barcelona for next season, captain Matthis de Ligt is expected to command a similar fee, while Hakim Ziyech, Donny van der Beek, David Neres and Nicolas Tagliafico could also go.

Spurs have benefited themselves from the conveyer belt of talent that rolls through the academy at the Dutch giants.

Image Credit: Gulf News

As well as Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Davinson Sanchez will come up against their former club in the last four.

Tottenham have long since had a similar, if less prolific strategy.

Luka Modric and Gareth Bale eventually outgrew Spurs’ status to join Real Madrid, where they went onto win four Champions League titles together.

However, having moved into now the biggest club ground in London and edging ever closer to a fourth consecutive season of Champions League football, manager Mauricio Pochettino wants Tottenham to truly belong among the European elite.

“We need to start to think about the new chapter, the new era, to ensure Tottenham is a real contender for the big things,” said Pochettino.

“We have to behave like a big club for sure. We need to be a realistic contender for big things.

“I am desperate to win a trophy. Whether that is the FA Cup, the League Cup or others and we have tried in the past five years.

“If you ask me to bring the club to the next level like Real Madrid and Barcelona it’s not about winning just one cup, it’s about being in a competition like the Champions League and being a contender to win it or the Premier League.

“We must show respect for our opponents. Ajax fully deserve to be where they are and it is going to be a very competitive game.”

“We have a spirit in the team that we can achieve anything and all is possible. That is our strength.

“We have a great opportunity to be here playing the semi-final, it has not happened often. It is our first time in the Champions League semi-final, that is why you must show respect for the competition and the opponent because it is going to be tough.”

Behaving like a big club means keeping hold of their best players.

Unlike Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min, who have committed to long-term deals, Eriksen has just over a year left on his contract and is in no rush to renew with rumoured interest from Real Madrid and Juventus.

“I hope and I wish Christian can be with us in the future but I think Christian and us we are so open to talk and we will see what happens,” said Pochettino.