Before coronavirus, Tottenham Hotspur were in trouble. They sit in eighth, seven points off the top four with just nine games remaining.
Things haven’t gone their way this season. Many questioned the decision to sack Mauricio Pochettino, who took them to a Champions League final six months before. However, many critics were silenced as they quickly replaced the argentine with Jose Mourinho.
Under Mourinho, Spurs definitely improved, rising from 14th to their current position. One thing that Mourinho hasn’t been able to fix is Spurs’ midfield conundrum. With the recent departures of Victor Wanyama and Moussa Dembele, Spurs are yet to find a reliable ball winner in midfield.
Under Mourinho, Spurs have operated in a more defensive 5-4-1 off the ball, which transitions into a 3-4-3 with the ball. Harry Winks has been at the heart of the midfield, usually with Giovanni Lo Celso. Both have failed to score or assist in the league this season, creating a combined 2 big chances.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg may be what is missing in Mourinho’s midfield to make them a far more stable team. Southampton’s captain has impressed for the Saints this year.
The Dane averages 10.5 recoveries per 90 minutes which has helped steady a sinking Southampton ship that looked destined for relegation. This makes him, on average, the best recoveree of the ball in the league.
He also averages 9.2 passes in the opposition final third per 90, which shows his ability to break up opposition attacks and start attacks for his own team. Hojbjerg averages more interceptions, aerial duel wins and passes than Winks per 90.
It shows the 24-year-old has been influenced by former manager Pep Guardiola and his ‘take the ball, ball the ball’ philosophy. The pair spent time together in Germany, during Guardiola’s time at Bayern Munich.
Hojbjerg’s current deal expires next summer. It looks unlikely that he will renew with Southampton as he looks to take the next step in his career. Frenchman Tanguy Ndombele has been linked to a move away from North London after just one season.
It’s said that the midfielder has fallen out with Mourinho and wants to quit the North London club. Given the financial effects of Coronavirus, it’s unlikely Spurs would be able to command the £58.5 million they paid Lyon last summer.
The potential fee that Spurs could receive for the 23-year-old is around £45 million. That would certainly finance a move for Southampton’s captain this summer.
Alternatively, they may even be able to acquire him for free next summer with his contract running down.
There is always a risk that other clubs may swoop in before and beat Spurs to his signature. The likes of Everton are also interested and so Spurs must act fast.
This would be a logical signing for Spurs, as many of their recent signings struggling to adapt to the Premier League initially. Hojbjerg has been in the league since 2016, and displays the leadership qualities that Spurs often lack.