Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg could be the surprise solution to Nuno Santo’s creative problems at Tottenham Hotspur this season.
With the transfer window shut until January at the earliest, the Portuguese head coach will have to work with what is currently at his disposal.
The season could not have got off to a better start, with Spurs winning all three of their opening matches, including an impressive win over defending champions Manchester City – all without conceding a goal, too.
However, they are the lowest scorers in the Premier League’s top ten, which suggests that sooner or later things could start to change. As such, Nuno must find a way for his team to start scoring more goals, especially with Harry Kane back in the frame.
The England international is the only Spurs player to average two or more key passes per game, and he’s only played 108 minutes thus far. Steven Bergwijn is next up, averaging 1.3 key chances a match, but Spurs’ attacking midfielders are nowhere to be seen.
Dele Alli, who has started all three games in a more advanced midfield role, is yet to record a single key pass. Meanwhile, Tanguy Ndombele hasn’t featured yet this term amid the speculation over his future, while Giovani Lo Celso’s 36 minutes on the pitch have seen just the one chance created, per WhoScored.
In fact, it is the great Dane in the middle who has created the most of the available options (one per game).
That may come as a bit of a shock to some around N17, but under Nuno, the tough-tackling Hojbjerg could actually be a very solid option further up the pitch.
His recent international displays would certainly suggest so.
At Euro 2020, the 26-year-old was among the top performers at the tournament as Denmark made the semi-finals. He recorded three assists, ten successful dribbles and 11 key passes across six appearances, via SofaScore.
For context, only one player recorded more assists than Hojbjerg, who even notched more than the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Gareth Bale, Jack Grealish and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Again this week, we saw a glimpse of what the £36m-rated beast can do when given more freedom to push forward.
Hojbjerg, who earns a reported £100k-per-week, picked up a further assist during Denmark’s World Cup qualifying clash with Scotland. Per SofaScore, he had a whopping 92 touches of the ball and made 95% of his 83 passing attempts, proving to be a major focal point for his side.
However, on the above evidence, he could well emerge as an intriguing box-to-box option for Nuno.
It’s clear that Spurs’ current creative options are the one negative in this side right now and it’s only a matter of time before that alarming weakness gets exposed. After the international break, the Portuguese boss must consider a change in plan for his star midfielder.