If it’s not Liverpool, it’s Tottenham. That’s how most Southampton fans must feel when the summer transfer window comes around, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg the latest star to move on from St Mary’s.
The Danish midfielder has shone for Saints in the centre of the park this season and follows the likes of Victor Wanyama and Tony Alderweireld with a £20m switch to Spurs.
That leaves Ralph Hasenhuttl with a hole at the base of his midfield, and bearing in mind Hojbjerg made 38 appearances for Southampton last season, it’s a hole that’s going to need filling.
So, who could be heading to the South Coast in place of the London-bound disruptor? We’ve picked out three potential replacements, just in case the Saints’ Austrian boss is reading.
There are several pros and cons to signing Brentford ace Christian Norgaard. On the plus side, he’s quite good at football and the matchday programme designer won’t need to find an alternative to the Danish flag.
On the downside, he could cost a pretty penny. The 26-year-old signed a new four-year deal last summer and although the Bees remain in the Championship, there’s every chance he’ll command a fee north of £10m.
However, it might be worth splashing out. The ex-Fiorentina man is an expert at breaking up the play and recycling the ball to provide opportunities for his more advanced midfield colleagues and the forward line.
He doesn’t do anything flashy or exciting, but then that’s not his job. The Dane keeps it simple and ticks over the play in the centre of the park, breaking up opposition counter-attacks and allowing his side to break at pace.
In many ways he’s the perfect replacement for a player like Hojbjerg, and if you ask most Brentford fans, they’d probably suggest Norgaard would be just as big a loss as Said Benrahma or Ollie Watkins.
Southampton have been heavily linked with Schalke star Weston McKennie in recent weeks, and it’s easy to see why.
Not only does the American have a fantastic name, he’s also plying his trade under David Wagner, which means he’ll already be familiar with the type of high-intensity pressing football that Hasenhuttl likes to employ.
He has good character references, too, with current Chelsea star Christian Pulisic commenting in 2019 that, “He wins everything”, which is an obvious plus for a player who’ll be tasked with the job of getting the Saints moving.
Indeed, his willingness to run in and out of possession is one of his major assets, and combined with his 6ft 1in frame, the Texas-born star has all of the physical attributes to suggest he’ll be a success in the Premier League.
The 21-year-old also boasts a passing accuracy of 85%, which is better than Hojbjerg’s 78.1% last season, and at such a young age, he also offers tremendous resale value if his move ends up being a success.
Please don’t shout at us, we know Harrison Reed is already a Southampton player, but that’s the beauty of it. Does Hasenhuttl need to sign anyone at all when he has a ready-made replacement for Hojbjerg already at the club?
The ginger-haired disruptor was fantastic on-loan at Fulham this season, and while the Cottagers have the option to acquire his services for £8m this summer, the 25-year-old has indicated he could yet remain at St Mary’s.
Reed has suggested he’d be willing to stay on the South Coast, but not without a guarantee of first-team football.
Hasenhuttl has already provided opportunities for the likes of Yan Valery and Michael Obafemi to break into the first-team, and in a coronavirus world where finance is precious, Reed is an attractive – and cheap – option.
Saints fans already know what he’s about, and after three seasons on-loan at Norwich, Blackburn and now Fulham, he should now be ready to make that step up for Southampton in the Premier League.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication