2015 could define Hojbjerg's chances of making the grade at Bayern Munich.
Coached by 40-year-old Markus Weinzierl, one of the best young managers in Europe, sixth-placed Augsburg are a dark horse to qualify for the UEFA Champions League as a point separates them from third-place Bayer Leverkusen.
Voted the top Bundesliga manager at the halfway stage of this season, per Kicker (h/t Bundesliga.com), Weinzierl interchanges between a 4-2-3-1, a 4-1-4-1 and a 4-4-2 formation.
|Markus Weinzierl's Last 5 Bundesliga Formations|
|Average Positioning||Starting Defensive/Central Midfielders|
|4-4-2||Daniel Baier and Markus Feulner|
|4-2-3-1||Daniel Baier and Markus Feulner|
|4-1-4-1||Daniel Baier (No. 6), Halil Altintop and Markus Feulner|
|4-2-3-1||Daniel Baier and Dominik Kohr|
|4-2-3-1||Daniel Baier and Markus Feulner|
|Credit: Kicker.de and WhoScored.com.|
- Daniel Baier: Rated as the fourth-best Bundesliga midfielder last season (placed above Toni Kroos), per Kicker, Baier is the primary passing outlet at Augsburg, averaging 61.9 passes per game. He is an untouchable for Weinzierl.
- Dominik Kohr: On loan from Bayer Leverkusen, Kohr can pass and shoot with either foot. But his tackling efficiency is poor, only connecting with 59.6 percent of his attempted tackles. He is in his second successive campaign at Augsburg, which is an advantage over Hojbjerg, who needs to acclimatise to a new setting.
- Markus Feulner: The former Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund player has been benched four times this season, in part because he is still not fully fit. This is why the Hojbjerg and Kohr loans were sanctioned, which suggests Weinzierl will go with youth over experience.
- Halil Altintop: A tricky forward-thinking footballer, who has been experimented in a Wayne Rooney-ish midfield role. That will likely be shelved due to the Hojbjerg loan signing.
Hojbjerg's agent Soren Lerby alluded to Weinzierl reassuring Hojbjerg about an opportunity to break into the Augsburg starting XI.
"[Hojbjerg] will get that chance at Augsburg," Lerby said, per Christoph Koeckeis at Goal. "If not, he would have stayed at Bayern Munich. He still wants to succeed."
|Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's Competition|
|Bundesliga 2014-15||Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg||Daniel Baier||Dominik Kohr||Markus Feulner|
|Minutes Per Game||35.8||89.7||64.7||72|
|Passes Per 90 Mins||92.2||62.1||31.9||30.8|
|Pass Success %||88.4||76.2||74.5||70.7|
|Long Pass Success %||73.9||47||50||57.1|
|Tackles Per 90 Mins||3.1||2.1||3.6||3.3|
|Tackle Success %||76.9||62.5||59.6||63.4|
|Interceptions Per 90 Mins||1.6||2.7||3||1.1|
|Fouls Per 90 Mins||1.6||0.8||2.2||2.1|
Bayern Munich lead the Bundesliga in possession (70.5) and pass-completion percentage (86.8) which has moulded Hojbjerg's playing style.
Compared to Baier, Kohr and Feulner, Hojbjerg has a substantially higher passes-per-90-minutes, pass-success and long-pass percentage.
Hojbjerg has a smooth passing motion, he is poised on the ball and is a quick decision-maker.
Weinzierl knows he can rely on Hojbjerg to retain and distribute the ball prolifically and efficiently. Hojbjerg's stats illustrate why, per WhoScored:
At 6'1" and 179 pounds, Hojbjerg possesses the natural physical tangibles Weinzierl should want in a central midfielder.
Then why has Hojbjerg's development stagnated at Bayern Munich?
Life threw Hojbjerg a curve ball as his father was diagnosed with cancer.
Even Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola broke down in tears.
"[Guardiola told me] I've heard about your father, and I'm extremely upset about it. Let's have a chat," Hojbjerg said, per SPOX.com (h/t Marca). "[Guardiola] said he and the club would always be by my side...then Guardiola cried."
Hojbjerg's fear turned into grief, per FCBayernMunich.com:
Bayern Munich: You lost your father a few months ago. How did you cope, and how you feeling now?
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: It was the worst time of my life and it'll always be a bad memory. But I can now say the experience has made me stronger. My dad is a huge motivating factor for me because he's in my heart every day.
Bayern Munich sporting director Matthias Sammer will probably use Hojbjerg's loan at Augsburg as one of the primary determinants to either hold or sell him.
"The contract extension through 2018 is a clear sign for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg that Bayern Munich is counting on him for the future," Sammer said, per the club's official website. "[The loan to] Augsburg until the end of this season is a good solution for him to gain immediate match practice before returning to us."
What Sammer did not mention was the Augsburg loan enables Hojbjerg to showcase his talent, which might lead to a prospective suitor lodging a transfer bid.
Conversely, Hojbjerg can use the loan as a stepping stone to become a regular at Bayern Munich, as was the case with the likes of:
- David Alaba (Hoffenheim; 2011).
- Toni Kroos (Bayer Leverkusen; 2009-10).
- Philipp Lahm (Stuttgart; 2003-2005).
- Samuel Kuffour (Nurnberg; 1996).
This is why Hojbjerg's Augsburg loan is make-or-break.
When not specified, statistics via WhoScored.com.