Tottenham have discovered they will have to sign a high-quality midfield upgrade for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg the hard way as he does not have a crucial clause in his current contract.
Hojbjerg impressed in a Tottenham shirt after signing from Southampton in August 2020. Following Rodrigo Bentancur’s arrival at the club in January last year, Hojbjerg formed a solid midfield partnership with the Uruguayan. Hojbjerg helped to get the best out of Bentancur earlier this season as the former Juventus man notched five goals and two assists in his first 18 Premier League appearances of the campaign.
However, Bentancur’s season was ended in February by an ACL rupture, while Hojbjerg’s form has dipped of late.
And the Dane has also come in for criticism from Tottenham fans recently as he does not seem to be putting in anywhere near as much effort as in previous seasons.
James Ward-Prowse is one player who could replace Hojbjerg at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The England international is likely to move on from Southampton this summer following their relegation to the Championship.
While Ward-Prowse has great love for Southampton, having come through their academy and captained them since 2020, he has proven himself to be far too good for the Championship. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has even called him the best free-kick taker in the world.
Plus, if Ward-Prowse wants to pick up more appearances for England then he must be playing in the top flight.
As per a report from the Daily Mail, Spurs are willing to offer him an opportunity to stay in the Premier League. They are preparing to begin talks with Saints to see if they can reach an agreement over a transfer.
Saints want to keep their talisman but know they will simply have to sell him leave if a huge bid comes in. They have previously rejected a £25m offer from Aston Villa for him, so it would likely take a proposal in the region of £40-50m to complete a deal.
Spurs will face competition from Villa and West Ham to sign the 28-year-old.
A move away from St Mary’s would have been far easier for Ward-Prowse, as well as his potential suitors, if Southampton had included a relegation clause in his contract. However, Saints chiefs clearly were not expecting to struggle so much when negotiating Ward-Prowse’s terms and therefore did not include such a clause.
Instead, Spurs, Villa and West Ham will have to do it the hard way and meet Saints’ asking price before landing Ward-Prowse.
The set-piece specialist would probably reject West Ham’s advances given the fact they are only five places above Southampton and have had to fight against relegation themselves this campaign.
Instead, the battle for Ward-Prowse is likely to come down to Spurs and Villa. Spurs would normally represent the more attractive option, but Villa have looked brilliant since Unai Emery took charge and may qualify for European competition, with Spurs also in the mix.