It wouldn’t have been too much of a surprise if Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had have left Southampton this summer given he struggled to break into the starting XI on a consistent basis under three different managers, following his move to the club from Bayern Munich in the summer of 2016.
While he started brightly under the tutelage of Claude Puel back then, his performances soon went downhill and he certainly wasn’t showing the potential and quality that he had in glimpses with Bayern, where he was highly rated by Pep Guardiola among others.
The 23-year-old began the current campaign behind Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina in the central midfield pecking order, but with the former also struggling for form he was handed a start alongside the latter in the 2-1 defeat against Leicester City at St Mary’s last month.
The Denmark international produced an impressive display in the centre of the park as he fought his place in the team under Mark Hughes, but he ultimately cost the south coast outfit as he was given a second yellow card for diving, with his side going on to lose 2-1 to Puel’s men.
However, despite the disappointment and controversial moment Hughes stuck with the well-spoken player for the trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday, and he certainly didn’t let his boss down with an outstanding performance.
As well as scoring his first Premier League goal in injury-time to wrap up a 2-0 victory, the 23-year-old was a menace at both ends of the pitch and had a total of 93 touches – at least eight more than any of his teammates.
His goal came from three shots and he produced two key passes, while he showed his defensive qualities as well by winning two tackles and four aerial duels, also making two interceptions and two clearances, as per WhoScored.com.
Southampton fans would have expected the talented Lemina to be the next to secure a dream move away from St Mary’s that the likes of Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk have previously, but if Hojbjerg performs like he did against the Eagles consistently it will be him instead.