Has Pierre-Emile Højbjerg now cemented his place in Southampton's starting XI?

Has Pierre-Emile Højbjerg now cemented his place in Southampton's starting XI?

Since moving to the south coast from Germany, the midfielder has found his chances limited at St. Mary's but is relishing the opportunity of first-team football once again.

Ryan White

The chance to grace the turf of the Premier League is an 'once in a lifetime' opportunity and not many people on this planet get to brag about being a top-flight football, however, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is and slowly making a name for himself despite moving to this country almost 18 months ago. 

Having begun his career at German giants Bayern Munich, the 22 year-old has very much had to take a backwards step before remerging into the limelight. 

Højbjerg left his homeland of Denmark, playing for Brøndby IF, to join the dominant European outfit and made his deserved debut at the age of 17 as a substitute for explicit winger Xherdan Shaqiri, who is incidentally also attempting to leave a mark on the Premier League. 

His game time in the southern depths of Germany would go uncherished, and a couple of loan spells at FC Schalke and Bayern Munich neighbours FC Augsburg proved his future lied elsewhere, so took his chance in English Football at Southampton, whom paid £12.8 million for his services in the summer of 2016

Now, almost a year-and-a-half-years into his Saints career and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is finally flourishing this side of the Channel. 

Has Pierre-Emile Højbjerg been the missing link for Mauricio Pellegrino?

A large applauds has to go towards Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino for allowing the 21-time capped Denmark international a run in the starting eleven. 

His feature in the team sheet came with the suspension absence of tough-tackling holding midfielder Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina's recovery came too soon to halt Højbjerg's admission in the manager's selection - he undoubtedly could have shifted captain and fan favourite Steven Davis into the heart of midfield but opted for the under-23 side regular instead. 

The Copenhagen-born player specifically put in a powerful and convincing display in the Saints' most recent triumph, as Pellegrino's squad brushed aside a diminished Everton team last weekend. 


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Few minutes

Prior to kick-off at St. Mary's on Sunday, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg had played out a measly six minutes of top-flight football this season and had to mark his case in that outing to ensure his future at Southampton. 

He did just that having accumulated 121 touches of the ball during the visit of the Toffees - more than any other player on the pitch that day. As well as that, passing the ball successfully on 96 occasions - more than any other player on the pitch that day. Finally, made more tackles throughout the match than anyone else. 

In Southampton's most recent game, on the road to league leaders Manchester City, the visitors put out an arguable case of their ability and the hosts had to wait until the very death before grabbing a winner. 

Mauricio Pellegrino's awareness of City's threat was a probable factor to the minimal goal difference as three-at-the-back was tested by the Saints and a midfield trio of Romeu, Lemina and Højbjerg. The latter making another case as to why he's flourishing in what to this point has been a fairly average Southampton side. 

A concrete place in the first-team looms

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg's heavy presence in the reserve league goes to show of what little faith manager Mauricio Pellegrino 'did' have in him, but it goes to show that the boss is willing to give players the opportunity to impress and the midfielder has grabbed that opportunity. 

Having featured in 22 Premier League outings last campaign, Højbjerg is far off from matching that tally with just three appearances to his name this season so far. 

However, his impressive performances proves he has proved a point and a place in on the bench week-in, week-out beckons for the Dane, and it is highly deserved for his ability to dive straight into senior action and make an instant impact. 

This next month is the real chance as the Saints play no less than seven top division fixtures including opposition against Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea