Southampton captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has recently switched his agent, and has reportedly rejected a long-term contract, but Ralph Hasenhüttl needs to do everything in his power to stop the Denmark international from walking out the door.
Hojbjerg joined Southampton in the summer of 2016 for a fee of just under £13 million, and has since been a rock in the centre of midfield. The former Bayern Munich man was signed to replace Victor Wanyama, who left for Tottenham a few weeks before Hojbjerg’s arrival from Germany.
Hojbjerg has been very impressive for the Saints in recent times, especially last season, and his good form has led to interest from the likes of Tottenham and Everton.
The Dane recently hired so-called “super agent” Pini Zahavi, who also looks after the likes of Javier Mascherano, Kevin Trapp, Carlos Tevez and Robert Lewandowski. Many Saints fans have linked the appointment of Zahavi to a potential a summer move away from Southampton for Hojbjerg, but the club cannot afford to let him go.
The Southampton captain is tied down to a contract that keeps him on the South Coast until the summer of 2021, and the Denmark international has topped a lot of the midfield stats for the Saints since he came over from the Bundesliga.
Hojbjerg plays just in front of the defence in Ralph Hasenhüttl’s preferred 4-2-2-2 formation. He usually partners James Ward-Prowse in defensive midfield, and has been given the ugly role of turning over the ball by breaking up opposition attacks before the ball enters the final-third. Since the start of the season, Hojbjerg has successfully won the ball back off the opposition 152 times. That is an impressive average of 5.6 times per game.
His impressive defensive abilities have been so crucial to Southampton in recent times, especially as Ralph Hasenhüttl’s main philosophy is winning the ball back high up the pitch and getting a quick shot away. Last season, Hojbjerg scored 4 Premier League goals, and assisted another 3. Although he hasn’t been as involved in the final third as he was last season, he has recently taken on a more defensive role.
Hojbjerg’s tackling ability and aggression have made him an all-round solid CDM, and his stability has also allowed James Ward-Prowse to get forward and join the attack, which hugely benefits Southampton. Ward-Prowse has always been praised for his high-quality passing and set piece delivery, and although he has always contributed a lot the the Southampton attack, he has recently become a lot more aggressive and nasty, which makes him the perfect partner to Hojbjerg in defensive-midfield.
If Hojbjerg was sold in the Summer, it is unlikely that Southampton would be able to recruit a replacement with the defensive, attacking and leadership abilities that the current Saints captain possesses.
If Southampton want to continue to move in the right direction, they need to keep their best players, and there are not many players that are more important to them than Hojbjerg.
If the Saints sell their captain, it would be a huge step backwards, and it is definitely something they cannot afford to do.