Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is all set to join Tottenham on a permanent deal from Southampton.
According to Fabrizio Romano, Tottenham have completed the signing of Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg for a transfer fee of €17m. The 25-year-old defensive midfielder has just one year remaining in his contract with Southampton and the transfer could be official anytime soon.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 6, 2020
Højbjerg has bossed the number 6 role under manager Hassenhuttl and his impressive performances in the past two seasons have attracted interest from various top clubs. Tottenham desperately needed a defensive midfielder, having not being able to replace Dembele, who left for China last season. We have all heard about Højbjerg in Southampton but very few know that he is a Champions League winner. Let’s take a look at his career.
After spending six years playing for BK Skjold and F.C. Copenhagen he joined Brøndby IF at age of 14. He views Zinedine Zidane as his good example. At Copenhagen, he was often played as a striker. But it was at Brondby where he started playing in the central midfield. He often featured as the right midfielder there.
At the age of 16, he was awarded the title of ‘Danish U-17 Player of the Year’ in 2011. Two years later, he was named the ‘Danish Talent of the Year’.
He joined Bayern Munich in 2012 and played for Bayern Munich II in the Regionalliga Bayern. He made 44 appearances for Bayern’s reserves and scored 12 goals in the process.
He made his senior team debut for Bayern in 2013 against FC Nurnburg as a substitute. He was part of the Bayern team that won the treble in 2012-13. He was loaned to Augsburg in January 2015 and spent the remainder of the season there. He made 16 appearances for the Fuggerstädter. He was again loaned out to Schalke for the whole 2015-16 season. He made 30 appearances for Die Königsblauen including six in the Europa League. At the end of the loan, he made it clear that he wants a move away from Bayern for more first team opportunities.
In the summer of 2016, Southampton signed Højbjerg on a five-year-deal for a transfer fee around £12.8 million. He made his Premier League debut for the Saints against Watford after coming on as a substitute for James Ward-Prowse. He helped the Saints reach the EFL Cup final in 2017 but was an unused substitute in their loss against Manchester United in the final.
His first goal for the Saints came in 2018 when he opened the scoring for the Saints in their 2-0 win over Wigan in the League Cup. In December 2018, manager Ralph Hassenhuttl named him the captain of the team. He scored four goals in the 2018-19 season, which is the highest tally in his senior career. He made 38 appearances in all competitions in 2019-20. He was stripped of his captaincy after publicly speaking about his desire of leaving the club. But he remained to feature for the Saints.
Possible role at Tottenham?
Mourinho played a whole season without a number 6. Now that the club has qualified for Europa League, Mourinho desperately needs one. Mourinho always had a defensive midfielder who can win balls in the midfield. This role was popularised by Makelele at Chelsea under Mourinho. Højbjerg is nowhere near Makelele but he does just that. The Danish international averaged 10.6 ball recoveries in the Premier League last season, more than anyone in the league. Only Paul Pogba has a better ball regaining stat than Højbjerg in the Premier League.
He played as the defensive midfielder ahead of the four-man defence in a 4-4-2 formation at Southampton. He has an impressive defensive stat but he could be asked to perform a different role under Mourinho. Tottenham deploys a 4-2-3-1 formation and he could play as a pivot alongside Ndombele (if he isn’t sold), who will have a more attacking role. A midfield of Ndombele, Lo Celso and Højbjerg could become one of the most formidable midfield in England.
During his days at Bayern Munich, he was rated very highly by Pep Guardiola. The author of ‘Pep Confidential’ Martí Perarnau said of Højbjerg: “Pep had heard good things about Højbjerg before coming to Bayern and it has taken just a couple of training sessions for him to fall in love with the player. Pep thinks he may have just found the Sergio Busquets of Bayern.”
Whatever it may be, if Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho rate you highly, you’re on the right track of becoming successful.