Tottenham are edging closer to making their first signing of the summer with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s arrival on the cards.
Reports suggest Spurs could land the central midfielder for around £15million, although other believe Southampton will push for more before a deal is finalised.
It’s a transfer which offers a solution for both clubs, with the Lilywhites needing a more defensive central midfielder and a leader in the middle of the park, while the Saints need to sell a player who could leave on a free transfer next summer, despite his quality.
The Dane’s transfer can also grease the wheel on a potential move for Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker-Peters, which is being talked about as a £12m deal.
Relations haven’t been the best between the two sides over the last couple of decades, ever since Glenn Hoddle left St Mary’s for White Hart Lane in 2001, while Spurs landing Gareth Bale on the cheap is hard to let go too.
But these deals could at least repair some old wounds as they both seek to improve ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.
Hojbjerg pitching up in N17, is seemingly a vital ingredient in manager Jose Mourinho’s ‘new philosophy’ with the Portuguese lacking a No.6 to play in his midfield.
Both are energetic progressors and not diligent defensively, like Spurs have needed to protect a shaky backline.
The Dane is a round peg in a round hole for Tottenham and should help continue the improvement we saw during ‘Project Restart’ where, despite a lack of attacking football, they become one of the more successful Premier League sides.
But how will the team look with Hojbjerg in it? talkSPORT.com takes a look.
How Tottenham could look with Hojbjerg
Currently, Mourinho is favouring this formation for his Spurs side.
Serge Aurier, the attacking right-back, allows Lucas Moura to drift inside and give an extra body in between the lines, while left-back Ben Davies pushes into a back-three alongside the central defenders.
The signing of Hojbjerg will finally spell the end of WInks and Sissoko as central midfield partners, while Hojbjerg’s defensive contributions are likely to allow Ndombele more time on the pitch, giving him more freedom to create.
During the second phase of the season we also saw Giovani Lo Celso play in a more advanced role and this could continue as he begins to get assists and create a relationship with Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son on the pitch.
In other games we could see Lo Celso and Ndombele join Hojbjerg in a midfield three, Lo Celso providing some extra protection with his tenacious style, while Ndombele would be the one allowed to roam a little more.
This would see Aurier staying back a little more often with the more attacking Steven Bergwijn on the right to create width opposite Son.
Against Arsenal, this formation worked a treat and may be the one Mourinho chooses going forward to combat those who play a back-three.
In that 2-1 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, it was Son who was alongside Kane but it could be Dele Alli going forward thanks to his defensive qualities and pressing ability, while he’s also versatile enough to drop into a midfield three depending on the game state.
Son and Lucas would provide the energy and pace on the wings, although the former’s defending does still need a lot of work, as Hugo Lloris might tell you, and depending on the opposition a player like Sissoko may replace Lucas to provide an extra man in midfield if the full-back pushes on.
In the middle, it’s likely Lo Celso – an almost certain starter now – would play alongside Hojbjerg given his steel and creativity.
The possible new signing is likely to prefer this tactic too given his spell under Ralph Hasenhuttl has seen him used in this role predominantly.
It’s not unusual for Mourinho to use a back-three, so we should certainly take a look at how it may set up.
Davinson Sanchez, for the meantime, should come in as the third central defender, while as above it will be Lo Celso pairing with Hojbjerg in midfield.
There is a chance youngster Ryan Sessegnon could get a chance at left wing-back, but he’s also now being pushed hard by academy ace Dennis Cirkin.
Bergwijn shoulid get the nod over Lucas Moura but, as stated by the man himself, Mourinho loves the energy and self sacrifice of the Brazilian