20 Midfielder Schalke 04 (on loan from Bayern Munich) Denmark
12 months ago the expectation was that Pierre-Emile Højbjerg was on the verge of breaking into the Bayern Munich first team. We felt sure that the young midfielder would start to feature more regularly after a handful of Bundesliga and Champions League appearances to end the year had gone reasonably well.
Instead he has spent 2015 on loan at Augsburg and currently Schalke, and admittedly he is a better player for it even though he’d clearly have preferred to have had the same experiences with his parent club.
2015 has been…
Højbjerg is a blessed footballer. Naturally a box-to-box midfielder he has so far had to adapt his game to suit certain roles asked of him by his different managers. At Schalke, that has meant bringing energy and drive to the midfield especially in the second half of games. Pierre-Emile’s arrival to the club on 28th August, two weeks after the season had started, didn’t give him the best of chance to impress head coach André Breitenreiter.
More recently the lengthy suspension to Johannes Geis has forced Breitenreiter’s hand and seen Højbjerg used more regularly. It is still a role that is too defensive to suit the player’s natural tastes. That said he will no doubt be thankful for the minutes on the pitch. Only recently has Højbjerg’s playing time in the league for Schalke – 365 minutes upon last count – surpassed his playing time in the Europa League – 282 minutes.
Right now he doesn’t look like or operate like a settled member of the team. Because his pre-season was with the Bayern squad any partnerships or understandings in the side that may have developed on the eve of the season are only coming together now.
We’ll blame that on Pep struggling to make his mind up on how much he actually expected to use Pierre-Emile. By all accounts the Spaniard is a big fan of the Danish midfielder and we suspect that with 18 months of Bundesliga football under his belt, 2016/17 should mean we see him remain with the first team squad.
He needs to keep playing football regularly. It won’t hurt to improve his positional discipline and prove himself to be more than a midfielder that simply follows the ball; especially if he is tasked with a sitting job for the national team.
Højbjerg is one of an emerging group for Denmark that should make them a fun international team to watch in the next years. They won’t be at the party this summer but with Viktor Fischer and Pione Sisto joining Hojberg in the under-21s and a core of relatively young, established players already in the senior team, major tournaments will be the better for having them in years to come.
C- Messed around by Bayern but getting there
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