Kyle Walker-Peters looking for great value in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg exchange deal
Rarely does a swap deal take place without eyebrows raised with mumbles of discontent, usually due to the fact that one of the clubs involved has had a absolute nightmare.
When Southampton agreed to let Pierre-Emile Højbjerg move to Tottenham last summer, they bid farewell to a reliable midfielder who had been a mainstay of their starting XI for the best part of four seasons.
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The Saints received just £ 3million for Højbjerg, although the deal includes young Kyle Walker-Peters arriving at St Mary’s; an inexperienced full-back with just 22 Premier League appearances to his name.
Oh how the football world laughed at. “Ralph Hasenhuttl, they just got your pants down my friend” – less than six months later and the Southampton boss seems to have played an absolute blinder.
Walker-Peters is rapidly developing into an absolutely brilliant right-back, and his energetic displays have become the key to all that is good in Southampton’s game.
Last season Hasenhuttl cut and changed at right-back, with Cedric Soares spending most of the first half of the campaign at full-back before moving to Arsenal, where he suffered numerous injury issues.
Yan Valery was sometimes asked to sign up in there, although he was clearly not suited for a right-back role and Hasenhuttl’s hand was forced in that he had to play him at the ‘back with three center-backs, meaning there was a need for two defensive midfielders – Højbjerg and Oriol Romeu – to cover the flanks in a three-way midfield.
However, Hasenhuttl clearly saw Walker-Peters’ potential during his six-month loan spell at the club, and while the decision to swap Højbjerg for the youngster may not seem fair on paper, the way she did. allowed Southampton to change style. from the game to how the patron of the Saints wants them to play makes perfect sense.
Now Southampton have a well-balanced and confident right-back which means the Saints can play with four in midfield and there is no need for Højbjerg to provide additional cover – the move saw their midfield. pitch seemed a lot more balanced with the energy of James Ward- Prowse offset by the defensive us of Romeu, and suddenly Hasenhuttl didn’t look so silly.
Walker-Peters’ display over Liverpool has been rightly praised as his efforts have played an important role in keeping the champions at bay, although his performances throughout the season have rarely dropped.
His combative, all-in-action displays are exactly what a manager like Hasenhuttl needs for a team to thrive under his leadership, and the balance offered by Ryan Bertrand on the opposite flank has seen Southampton blossom into a well-established unit that is both difficult to break. down and threatening to the future.
It would be incorrect to overlook Spurs’ role in the Walker-Peters deal. While they unloaded a right-back who was clearly in excess of the club’s demands, they signed a quality central midfielder who is quite a player of Jose Mourinho and who has inserted himself into the eleven of departure transparently.
The summer addition of Matt Doherty and the emergence of Serge Auerier at right-back (and by “emergence” we of course mean that Mourinho taught him how to defend, but we’re trying to be nice here) mean that Walker -Peters would have barely sniffed the action of the first team this season, and instead they have strengthened their midfield with a player much appreciated by their coach.
Swap deals have come back into fashion a bit late due to the financial restrictions clubs have suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic, although to be honest it’s no surprise that they have all but disappeared due to because they so rarely work for both. clubs.
However, this one is a scarce commodity. Both teams managed the exchange brilliantly, and Hasenhuttl once again proved to be one of the most astute managers in the league.