Pierre-Emile Højbjerg has sprouted from a small chick to a ravishing adolescent in a short amount of time in the nest of Bayern. Now he is eager to fly, but the habitat is swarming with players in front of him.
"I want to eventually leave," Højbjerg told kicker. "The roster at Bayern is so good. Maybe it is not the time that I can go down my path here.
"I want to get better and learn – and I therefore need matches now."
The 19-year-old has tallied 461 minutes in his two full seasons with Bayern's first team, a tally that only includes four appearances in the starting XI. The MCL injury to David Alaba could give Højbjerg the necessary window to playing time, but that window could shut quickly once Bastian Schweinsteiger returns. He has not appeared with the Bayern second team since March, an indication that the club is inclined not to waste his talents in the Regionalliga.
"We are going to sit together [with Bayern] at the end of November, and then we'll see," said Sören Lerby, a Bayern alum and Højbjerg's agent. "It is clear that Pierre needs regular matches."
A loan for the Dane is pure speculation at this point, but one that is founded in a long pattern of Bayern products. Alaba, Mehmet Ekici, Andreas Ottl, Toni Kroos, Andreas Görlitz, Mats Hummels and Philipp Lahm all went on loan before becoming regular professionals, and they all were part of the first or second team for a season and a half before departing. The Bundesliga has several options for him to venture to, and here are the top situations that he could benefit from:
1) Hannover 96
There already is a link, according to a kicker report last week, and it is a genuinely salivating prospect. With the best defense in the Bundesliga, Hannover's shortcomings have occurred in their build-up play, Tayfun Korkut utilizing a conservative team selection. Joselu has roamed the attacking third by his lonesome for most of the season, and adding a box-to-box type player like Højbjerg could help Hannover remain in a Europe spot. He would need to create a lot on his own, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Thomas Schaaf has yet to mask the absence of Sebastian Rode since the 24-year-old signed with Bayern Munich, so why not provide the Frankfurt manager with a suitable replacement? Frankfurt have conceded the third-most goals this season, and while Højbjerg's defensive skill set is not completely refined, his presence will allow Marco Russ to return to the back line where he belongs. Frankfurt is not in a great position to achieve much, but Højbjerg's presence could help ensure they stay in the top-flight.
3) SC Freiburg
Of the teams trying to distance themselves from the relegation zone, Freiburg is one of the thinnest when it comes to midfield options. Christian Streich has started Jonathan Schmid and Vladimír Darida in nearly every match together, and the Freiburg gaffer does not have great alternatives should one of them pick up a knock. Højbjerg would be perfect to relieve the burden off of the two 24-year-olds, slotting right into Streich's 4-4-2 system as a versatile No. 8. Freiburg have fielded loan players in the recent past, and may be willing to give Højbjerg the time that he needs as they stave off relegation for a second year in a row.
A loan to Wolfsburg could be a wishful scenario with all the depth Dieter Hecking acquired in the offseason. Many of the players in midfield are of the attacking variety, and with aspirations in three competitions, the holding midfield could thin out quickly due to injury or suspension. Luiz Gustavo and Joshua Guilavogui have done a terrific job in midfield thus far, but Højbjerg would be a nice compliment that Hecking could use to spell the two. Højbjerg would have a tough time getting minutes, but hopefully there will be several opportunities to gain experience in a top Bundesliga team.
This also might be a pipe dream, especially in the short term. That said, Christoph Kramer's loan from Bayer Leverkusen ends at the end of the season. Unless Mönchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl is willing to pony up the cash to acquire the Germany international permanently, M'Gladbach could be in the market for another midfielder. The only sticking point is the relationship Bayern has with Eberl is toxic at the moment. The loan would likely have to be for 18 months for it to be beneficial for Højbjerg or Mönchengladbach, but the scenario is not out of the realm of possibility.