Off Season Previews: Brighton and Hove Albion
With the World Cup drawing to a close, focus soon turns to club football once again. In this series I will be previewing the new season for each Premier League club. This piece will look ahead to Brighton & Hove Albion’s upcoming 2018/19 season.
Yves Bissouma CM, Bernardo LB, Florin Andone CF, David Button GK, Percy Tau CF, Leon Balogun CB, Jason Steele GK
(Notable) Loan Returns:
Soufyan Ahannach LM, Mathias Normann CM
Connor Goldson CB, Jamie Murphy LW, Uwe Hunemeier CB, Tim Krul GK, Rohan Ince CM, Steven Sidwell CM, Liam Rosenior RB.
Net Spend: -£32.40 m
Off the back of a successful first crack at the top flight, it’s been a quietly busy summer for Brighton. Emphasis on the word quietly, due to the lack of established names they have signed, as is the nature of the window for clubs in their position. So far this window they’ve had players arrive from Ligue 1, Bundesliga, La Liga 2 and South Africa’s ABSA Premiership. Kudos to Brighton’s scouting network for casting the net far and wide. The dressing room will make for a diverse blend of footballing game styles to say the least, with Chris Hughton’s job to bring them as one.
Naturally, their second most expensive signing ever catches the eye. £15m may seem like a lot for a 21 year old, but in young ex LOSC Lille midfielder Yves Bissouma, Brighton may just end up with the bargain of the summer. Expect to see the Mali international form a central midfield trio alongside Pascal Groß and Davy Propper. His quick feet often result in lung bursting runs carrying his team 30 yards up the field, a trait vital for a team who will expect to spend large portions of games on the back foot. He should provide the change in tempo this team needs. Bissouma represents the exact type of high upside signing a club in Brighton’s position needs and should he hit, his value could grow exponentially.
After two seasons punching well above their weight, Bernardo is one of a number of young plays who have impressed during their time at German side RB Leipzig. He will bring some much needed youth to an aging full back core. Pencil him in for the starting left back berth come opening day.
Following a clear mandate to lower the average age of the squad, forwards Florin Andone and Percy Tau complete a log jam from the position. Management are certainly taking a risk, looking to find a diamond in the rough by recruiting players with no major league experience the most crucial position. Relegation battles are often won and lost by the quality of the striker and a lack of an established Premier League striker could come back to hurt them should both new additions struggle to hit the ground running. The pressure will be on club record signing Jurgen Locadia to bounce back after a rocky first season.
Much of the first team core remains, with experienced defender Leon Balogun expected to provide depth after moving on a free transfer, whilst new signings David Button and Jason Steele compete for the no.2 job.
Brighton appear to have completed their major transfer dealings already, leaving them with smaller moves around the edges to round out their window. Depth in the wing positions still lacks, with a forage into the loan market the likely outcome. Glenn Murray’s experience may be vital to keep around, providing insurance behind a strike force new to the English game. However versatile forward Sam Baldock appears to have played his last game for the club, who will make for an intriguing pick up in the Championship, with Tomer Hemed likely to follow him out the door. Joining Baldock in the Championship will be free kick maestro Oliver Norwood, with Hull City rumoured to be his preferred destination as he looks for first team action. Full back Suttner’s will likely be viewed as surplus to requirements.
It is cliché for the second season to be the hardest, but it holds some truth as teams look to consolidate themselves in the top division. Avoiding relegation is the be all and end all regarding this seasons success.
My (way too early) Prediction: 16th
Whilst the clinical edge looks hard to come by in front of goal, a blend of good coaching, a strong midfield group and a solid defence (top 10 last season) should be enough to scrape Brighton through by the skin of their teeth. Goals are a real concern for this team though, despite their quick passing brand of play.