Premier League

Shop-smart Seagulls can avoid sophomore struggles

 • by James Nalton
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Brighton & Hove Albion have been one of the busier sides in this summer’s transfer window, and even though some of their signings may have gone under the radar amid numerous bigger deals happening across the Premier League, they have broken their own transfer record a number of times already this year.

The arrival of Jürgen Locadia began this trend back in January, with the Dutchman arriving from PSV Eindhoven for a fee of around £14 million.

The striker experienced a mixed start in England, making just a handful of appearances, but still managing to score a goal in both the FA Cup and the Premier League.

The club returned to the Eredivisie, and to PSV, for the league’s top scorer last season, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, for whom they have paid around £19 million. The Iranian winger built on his free-scoring campaign with a few flashes of quality in the World Cup, and could be one of the more eye-catching players in the lower half of the league this season.

“Ali is a player that we have been aware of and monitored for a few years, and his versatility will increase our attacking options within the squad,” said manager Chris Hughton.

“He can play in a wide position or central midfield attacking role, and I am now very much looking forward to working with him.”

There is already a pattern in Brighton’s shopping, and though they appear to be spending some serious money, any fee under £20 million could be seen as a bargain in today’s market, even more so if the player turns out to be a success.

The Eredivisie is just one league where bargains can still be found, and Hughton’s side have bought from this second tier of the transfer market which allows smaller clubs to compete with richer, higher profile ones, if their scouting is on point.

Another example of this strategy is Yves Bissouma, who arrives from Lille. The midfielder is another player who troubled the club’s transfer record, though doesn’t quite eclipse Jahanbakhsh, and reportedly wasn’t quite as costly as Locadia, either.

As Football Whispers’ own Mark Thompson noted, last season in France “his game was heavily defined by build-up play, defending, and shooting, making Bissouma a valuable addition on and off the ball for the Seagulls.”

The Malian international is an all round midfielder of the type who are becoming highly sought after in the Premier League. If he impresses as he did at Lille, then he could easily become their best signing this summer, and a tidy profit could be made as other clubs inevitably come calling.

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Versatile full back and occasional midfielder Bernardo arrived from Bundesliga side RB Leipzig, while Percy Tau was signed from South Africa, but will need to be loaned out until he becomes eligible for a work permit in the UK. Such long term planning is also indicative that Brighton’s strategy is looking to the future as well as the present.

Defender Leon Balogun, and striker Florin Andone also arrive at the club in time for the new season, adding squad depth at both ends of the pitch, for little in the way of financial outlay.

The task now facing Hughton is being able to make sure his new signings gel with existing players, and being able to keep everyone happy throughout the season.

When players are signed for club record fees, they are usually expected to appear more often than not in the starting XI, by fans and club owners alike.

This means that some of those who started games last season may now find themselves on the bench, and the manager will need to keep his squad on the same page.

The versatility offered by almost all of these new signings will help, and they could slot in alongside last season’s stars such as Pascal Groß and José Izquierdo.

Plenty of talented players have made their way to the south coast club, and all come from a number of different backgrounds and leagues. The important thing here is that the scouting team knows the profile of player they need to improve their squad, and the knowledge that these players have the potential to fit in straight away, both in terms of their football ability and mentality.

Jahanbakhsh and Bissouma could walk straight into the team on opening day, fitness permitting, as the club look to secure their Premier League status yet again.

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