Southampton has stripped midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg of his captaincy after refusing to sign a new deal.
Speaking in an online news conference ahead of their trip to Norwich tomorrow, manager Ralph Hassenhuttl confirmed academy graduate James Ward-Prowse will captain the side for the remaining nine games of the season.
The Danish national – signed from Bayern Munich for £13 million in 2016 – has just 12 months left on his current contract, with Hassenhuttl previously stating his status of captain would be relinquished should he fail to sign an extension.
During the enforced break in May, the 24-year-old gave an interview to German media outlet SPORT1 expressing his desire to play at a higher standard and join a Champions League club next season.
No, he will not be captain. I spoke with him and we had an agreement, and made clear that if you decide not to extend your contract, you will not be captain of this team. He wanted to receive clearly what I think about it, and I said if you do not extend your contract you cannot captain anymore this team. It’s a special situation for such a player who is very professional.
I’ve spoken to him in the last few days and he knows that he is an important player for this club. I think we have found a good agreement. Our new captain will be Prowsey in the future.
I told him in the friendly game that he was the captain from now, and it’s important we make this decision last week so everybody knows what it is about and everyone can concentrate on his job and that’s what I ask.
Hojbjerg has repeatedly been linked with a move away from the club, and it was recently reported that Tottenham and Everton were leading the race for his signature.
Southampton CEO Martin Semmens has previously confirmed the midfielder will be allowed to leave should their valuation be met – which is believed to be in the region of £35 million. He told BBC Radio Solent earlier in June:
If there’s a club out there that can win the Champions League and they think Pierre can improve their team, if they can pay for him, then we have to let him go
Hojbjerg has scored five goals in 129 appearances for the Premier League side and has been capped 33 times for Denmark, scoring three goals.