He was the youngest player ever to represent Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and was dubbed the next Sergi Busquets by Pep Guardiola, now following Christian Eriksen the next great expectation in the national side Pierre-Emile Højbjerg has landed on the south coast of England at Southampton. The 20 year old has signed a 5 year contract for a fee thought to be around £12million from the German champions and with the departure of defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama to Spurs Højbjerg will be eager to make that position his own.
Internationally great things are expected of the Copenhagen born midfielder, After representing his country at every youth level from Under 16 to Under 21, scoring 12 goals in 38 appearances, Højbjerg made his senior debut against Sweden in May 2014 and now has 15 caps and 1 goal going into a new World Cup qualifying campaign for Åge Hareide’s squad.
The career development for Pierre-Emile Højbjerg hasn’t gone quite to plan since his being named Danish Under 17 Player of the Year in 2011, the midfielder joined Bayern Munich from Brondby in 2012 but only made 25 appearances in 4 seasons, the highlight certainly being the 2014 DFB Pokal final where Højbjerg started in a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund, inevitably this led to 2 loan spells with fellow German sides Augsburg and FC Schalke in his last 2 seasons where he saw he playing time increase that bit more.
During his time in Bavaria the teenager was seen as a talented passer whose intelligent reading of the game was perfectly suited to the role of pivote, and Guardiola – an expert in the position – wanted to teach him everything he knew. Frustratingly for Højbjerg he still had to bide his time for a chance to make an impact on the pitch behind the likes of Phillip Lahm and Toni Kroos and then Thiago Alcantara, Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso, On finally leaving Bayern the midfielder said “It really made me who I am today, For the future, what I learned at Bayern is worth gold. I am really thankful that I experienced it”
With many clubs around the continent ready to take the Danish protégé the lure of Southampton for Højbjerg was in part attributed to new manager Claude Puel, known very much for his dedication to youth players during his time in France. On arriving at St Mary’s here’s what Højbjerg said of his new boss.
“I spoke with the manager and it was very positive in his way of analysing my style and the club. Also, his style was very clear and I like that. I like it when somebody has a style that they are clear about and they know what they want as it’s easier to follow and be part of. I can also speak French and that will make it a little easier.”
So the question is whether Højbjerg can finally unlock his huge potential at Southampton. His passing prowess is certainly a good fit for the Saints’ possession-based playing style on paper but at only 20 years old he already has a point to prove in the Premier League.