Premier League

Why Brighton’s Bernardo could be an all-round star

 • by Mark Thompson
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While other clubs have been dithering, linked to whichever big name is doing well at the World Cup, Brighton have been going about their business.

The Seagulls have signed four players already this window – Florin Andone, Jason Steele, and Leon Balogun. Adding to the list, the latest new face is left-back Bernardo, signed from RB Leipzig for around £9million.

The 23-year-old Brazilian is versatile: “I’ve come here as mainly a left-back, but I’ve also played in the centre of defence and as a central midfielder,” he said, adding that he also has experience at right-back.

As well as positional adaptability, Bernardo is capable going forwards or staying back.

His Football Whispers Player Persona radar shows how his game looked stylistically last season – characterised by offensive passing on one side of the ball and blocking on the other.

He made just over 20 forward passes per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga last season, the fourth-highest rate among full-backs. But he’s just as active off-the-ball too. His 4.52 tackles and interceptions makes him a true all-action full-back.

But, true to his statement on joining Brighton, his versatility shows when comparing his persona radars for his two seasons at Leipzig. 2016/17 (blue) was noticeably different from 2017/18 (yellow), meaning that he should be able to slot into whatever role Chris Hughton sees for him.

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He could be the first Brazilian ever to play for Brighton too and, in another first, this will be the first senior club outside the Red Bull family that Bernardo has signed for.

From being spotted by Red Bull Brasil as a teenager, he played for FC Salzburg and their feeder club FC Liefering, before making the short move to Germany and Leipzig.

Some of Brighton’s recent signings – notably Pascal Groß and Andone – have had the air of very smart, perhaps analytical signings, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Bernardo was one of them.

The Red Bull clubs are famous for their talent-spotting, with Sadio Mané and Naby Keïta just two of the players who have come through the system (and, coincidentally, both ended up at Liverpool).

Brighton could have got in there early on another future star.

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