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Everton make bid for Højbjerg but Spurs remain favorites

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There isn’t much to this “bidding war.”

Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur - FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

Southampton defensive midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is going to leave the club at some point in the coming weeks. It’s just a matter of where he goes, at this point. As we discussed earlier this week, Spurs are in the driver’s seat to sign the Danish International once the season is over. Everton, who are in need of depth in their own midfield, are trying to complicate matters, according to The Guardian.

Everton have bid £18m for the Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg but Tottenham are also in negotiations over a deal that would see the Denmark international join Spurs and Kyle Walker-Peters, who has spent the past six months on loan at St Mary’s, make a permanent switch in the opposite direction. Southampton are hopeful Tottenham will better Everton’s offer.

First, let’s establish that this is coming from David Hytner and Ben Fisher, so the credibility of this report is about as good as it gets. Both are extremely reliable with sourcing so I believe what’s being reported. Everton are trying to improve their squad and, with Højbjerg entering the final year of his contract at Southampton, believe they can get him on the cheap.

Tottenham Hotspur, however, shouldn’t be worried for two very simple reasons. First, we know they want Kyle Walker-Peters permanently. He’s gone the full 90 minutes for the Saints in four out of the last five matches. Hytner and Fisher go on to explain why this swap deal makes a lot of sense, even though there is still some work to be done:

Tottenham manager José Mourinho has identified Højbjerg as the holding player he needs to rebalance his midfield, and at 24 the one-time Bayern Munich wunderkind fits Spurs’ ideal profile for a signing. Walker-Peters has enjoyed himself since joining Southampton on loan in January – he has played regularly since the Premier League’s restart – and he is open to continuing his career at St Mary’s.

The biggest hurdle to overcome concerns the players’ valuations. Southampton had put a £35m price tag on Højbjerg before lockdown but his situation has changed. The club have stripped him of the captaincy and he has been left out of the team in recent games. With one year to run on his contract, Southampton would seek about £25m for him.

While it’s not mentioned here, other reports have suggested that Southampton values Walker-Peters at roughly £10m, meaning they’re looking for an additional £15m in cash on top of the 23-year-old right back. Levy has balked at that and believe’s Walker-Peters value is greater, due to him being a necessity for Southampton and being an English player. I still hold firm that the deal will end up being a player swap plus about £10m.

The second reason Spurs shouldn’t worry about Everton is that Højbjerg wants to move to London, not to Merseyside. There have been more than a handful of articles over the last few weeks that he thinks Tottenham is the right place for him to be and that Mourinho rates him. Ralph Hasenhuttl gave the most non-answer possible when he was asked about the situation, stating “We only sell our players at the right price for us. Generally, he is our player, he has one more year on his contract, he doesn’t want to extend his contract and we will see what will happen in the summer. It is not perfect for a player to go into the last months of his contract. We hope to find a solution that is the best for all [parties].”

Reading between the lines, that is a manager who knows when a player is gone and it’s time to cash in his chips. Everton might continue to bid but it’s probably wishful thinking at this point for the Toffees. If Hytner and Fisher aren’t enough to solidify the validity of the report, though, here’s Telegraph Chief Football Corespondent Jason Burt chiming in.

All in all, I’m not worried about Everton and you shouldn’t be either. Everything lines up well, though it does open up a question we’ll have to ask ourselves if the deal does go through: What will it mean for current Spurs midfielders? Is someone going to be sold and, if so, who?