Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League • England

Tottenham take major step towards replacing Hojbjerg with stellar compatriot who supports Arsenal

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Morten Hjulmand

A different Danish midfielder could line up for Tottenham next season

Tottenham scouts have been specifically ordered to watch Sporting CP midfielder Morten Hjulmand recently as the club consider him as a replacement for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, according to reports in Portugal.

Hojbjerg is approaching the final year of his contract with Tottenham, where he doesn’t seem to fit in with Ange Postecoglou’s ideal style of football. Therefore, it seems quite likely that the Denmark international will be sold in the summer.

But if Record is to be believed, Tottenham could have a different Dane lining up in their engine room next season after they started scouting Hjulmand in action for Sporting.

The 24-year-old is still in his debut season with Sporting after a summer move from Lecce, but could be playing his way into contention for another step up in his career by coming to the Premier League for the first time.

According to Record, Tottenham scouts have been focusing on Hjulmand recently, watching Sporting matches specifically to observe the former Admira Wacker man.

He has been identified as an ideal defensive midfielder to put at Postecoglou’s disposal, with Spurs’ scouts liking what they have seen so far.

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Hjulmand could cost a fortune

The problem is, though, that Sporting want to resist bids for Hjulmand, who is still under contract in Lisbon until 2028 and has an €80m (£68.6m) release clause.

And there is another elephant in the room: it has recently been confirmed that Hjulmand is a supporter of Arsenal, Tottenham’s north-London rivals.

Of course, it is not unheard of for Arsenal fans to end up as Spurs players. Matt Doherty was one example, for instance, though summer signing James Maddison went on to deny he had ever been a Gooner.

But it might mean Tottenham need to add even more conviction when negotiating personal terms if they are to make a concrete approach for Hjulmand.

They will be hoping their efforts to sign him are not in vain, though, since Hjulmand has been a long-term target. Indeed, reports of them scouting him stretch back to his Lecce days.

His progress since has been stellar, involving his first experience of the group stage of a UEFA competition (the Europa League) and leading to his international debut for Denmark in September.

At club level since signing for Sporting, Hjulmand has scored two goals and added four assists from 35 appearances. Furthermore, only three midfielders in the entire Liga Portugal have made more passes than him this season and he is also joint-fifth in his department for tackles.

In comparison to Hojbjerg, whose appearances this season have mainly been from the bench, Hjulmand has had more end product in his league this season.

Morten Hjulmand and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg stats comparison

Hjulmand also averages more than double the number of chances created by Hojbjerg per 90 minutes, despite tending to attempt and complete fewer passes, highlighting his efficiency and direct nature.

Hjulmand edges Hojbjerg for tackles made but also concedes more fouls. His success in aerial duels is also superior to the former Southampton star.

However, Hojbjerg does average more clearances, interceptions and blocks in the defensive phase of play.

For Postecoglou, though, it is all about dynamism. There has always been a sense that Hojbjerg doesn’t quite suit that style, which led to rumours of a departure even in January.

Time could well be ticking on Hojbjerg’s Tottenham career after four years, with Hjulmand an intriguing candidate to take over from him in the Spurs midfield.

Tottenham also still admire Conor Gallagher from Chelsea, for example, and seem likely to retain Rodrigo Bentancur, Yves Bissouma, Pape Matar Sarr and Oliver Skipp.