Brighton and Hove Albion raised a few eyebrows last season by staying up in the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Plenty of teamwork, hard graft, sprinkled with a touch of flair made sure the south coast club had another campaign in English football’s top flight – and inevitably they are looking to move up a gear in the transfer market.
So far this summer, Brighton have signed goalkeeper Jason Steele and centre-back Leon Balogun on free transfers from Sunderland and Mainz, Brazilian defender Bernardo from RB Leipzig for £10million and striker Florian Andone from Deportivo La Coruna for £6m.
Shrewd purchases, perhaps – and now they are about to make another in forward sensation Percy Tau. The 24-year-old was named the South African player of the season and has been playing for Mamelodi Sundowns.
Earlier this week, the club issued a statement which has cleared the way for his switch to the Amex Stadium. And a work permit needs to be secured. It read: “Mamelodi Sundowns is pleased to announce that the President of MamelodiSundowns Dr. Patrice Motsepe gave instructions to the management to finalise the deal with Brighton & Hove Albion FC after Percy Tau and his agent came to see him and apologised for disclosing confidential information to the media and for Percy Tau not reporting for training.”
Tau is primarily a left-footed striker, who can also operate out wide or as a playmaker. He certainly provides both goals and assists. Tau made his debut for South Africa at 21 in October 2015 and has scored five goals in 11 appearances so far.
The signs are encouraging and it’s perhaps somewhat a surprise no other Premier League club has taken notice of the potential he possesses until now.
Tau is currently the most valuable player in the ABSA Premiership, where Mamelodi Sundowns are the reigning champions. He has also been playing up front with New Zealand international Jeremy Brockie.
The 24-year-old has scored 18 goals in his just over 5,000 minutes of football in the ABSA Premiership, which equates to 296 minutes per strike. That’s 65 games overall.
What’s more impressive is that Tau has also assisted 22 goals in those 65 games.
And in the CAF-Champions League, he has scored three times in 21 matches. That equates to 549 minutes per goal (1,647 minutes total), and has assisted four times.
To be specific, in all competitions in his senior career, Tau has found the back of the net 24 times, and made 27 goals for his team-mates in 102 games.
When Tau played as a striker on his own or as part of a two over 57 of those games, he produced 15 goals and 19 assists. His secondary position as a left winger saw him play 23 times, scoring three and creating three goals.
And when he dropped deeper into a playmaker role across 11 matches, Tau scored four goals and made another two.
So Brighton would not only get an exciting player with plenty of potential, but someone who can play in a variety of positions in the final third. It will be interesting to see where Brighton are planning to use him, too.
The striker department looks rather competitive on the back of signing Andone, while they also signed Dutchman Jürgen Locadia earlier this year, adding to the likes of Glenn Murray and Tomer Hemed.
It’s uncertain how Andone and Locadia will settle into their first full seasons, while Hemed struggled to find form in the top flight. Tau may feel he has a good shot of making his mark here in a position he feels most comfortable.
Certainly, the Premier League is a much bigger step up for Tau, and perhaps it would be wise to bed him in slowly in England initially with some games in the League Cup competition – or they may even send him out on loan.
The potential is there, but it’s a question of whether he’s ready straight away for the big time.