Southampton’s latest off-season evolution took another step with the news that Bayern Munich midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is due for a medical on the south coast.
After Nathan Redmond joined from relegated Norwich and Claude Puel was installed in the dugout, the 20-year-old appears to be checking off the required formalities before becoming the Saints’ third major arrival of the summer.
With little in the way of gossip prefacing the switch, Hojbjerg’s switch may have come as something of a surprise to Saints fans. A fee of around £13m for the midfielder could be the biggest shock of all.
However, the Dane will arrive at St Mary’s with a burgeoning reputation in the game, boosted greatly by a favourable comparison from one of his former managers.
Pep Guardiola suggested the 15-cap international could develop into a Sergio Busquets-type for Bayern during his time in Bavaria.
Despite that assertion, playing time was understandably at a premium with the Bundesliga giants. As a result, Hojbjerg was loaned out to Augsburg and Schalke in the last two seasons to aid his development.
His greatest exposure to the first team came with the Gelsenkirchen outfit last term, where he did indeed display Busquetian tendencies.
The Copenhagen native completed 56.4 passes per 90 minutes for Schalke, the second-best rate of any squad player to log over 1000 league minutes.
In addition to his passing proficiency, Hojbjerg led the side with an interception rate of 3.7 per 90 minutes played.
Those impressive figures weren’t enough to land 2014’s Danish Talent of the Year a bigger role with Bayern, after the Allianz Arena outfit decided to splash out on Portugal prospect Renato Sanches, but did convince the Saints to make him Victor Wanyama’s replacement.
The Kenyan anchor moved to Tottenham earlier in the summer for a reported £12m, so Hojbjerg rates as a like-for-like replacement at next-to-no net cost.
If Guardiola’s prediction of the midfielder’s potential plays out, this will be seen as yet another shrewd move from one of the Premier League’s savviest operators.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.