The Seagulls Summary #2: The Next Window

By Charlie Parker-Turner (@CParkerTurner)

Sub-edited by Riley Taylor

Image credit: Paul Gillett licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

In a week full of fear which has included a global epidemic and food and drink scarcity, here’s hoping the brief few minutes reading my second Brighton and Hove Albion column will prove nothing less than a distraction from the problems we face as a nation.

The Coronavirus may have put a halt to the Premier League season, which could ironically be a best-case scenario for the Albion considering the run-in and recent form. Furthermore, it could be a blessing for others as the vast majority of the football community do not want to see Liverpool and Leeds United lift a trophy any time soon.

Therefore, with the rest of the season unknown, it seems only sensible to throw it forward and look at the transfer window before the beginning of next season, whenever that is. So, in this column I will be discussing what needs to be prioritised by Graham Potter and the recruitment side in the transfer window, looking at potential ins and outs.

Ben White and Retention

The priority must be transitioning Ben White into the first team. The 22-year-old has been tremendous in the Championship for Leeds and has received nothing less than praise since he graced the turf of Elland Road. The Peacocks are adamant they will be able to keep hold of the centre-back if they were to be promoted, consistently playing the ‘big club card’ despite not being in the Premier League for 16 years. A partnership of White and Lewis Dunk is capable of competing for Europa League on-paper, and in a back three with Dan Burn, based on his left-footed preference and versatility, would be a very solid modern-day defence.

Whilst on the topic of retaining top talents, Davy Propper and Steven Alzate are musts. The pair are both under contract at the Seagulls until 2023 but with clubs now paying huge release clauses and offering over-inflated prices, anything could happen. Propper has been one of Brighton’s best performers this season consistently; he travels well with the ball, his technical ability is second-to-none and he has the stamina to have his presence felt in both boxes.

Colombian midfielder Alzate has taken the step-up to the first team in his stride, making an impact in every one of his appearances. For a young prospect, the 21-year-old is composed both in and out of possession, can take on his man and create a chance, and is also very versatile. Currently, Alzate is an outstanding asset, but as he matures and his understanding of the Premier League grows, he will be top quality.  

Who to bring in: Up top

In terms of incomings, Brighton are certainly in need of a shake-up if they are to wholeheartedly buy into Graham Potter’s possession-based philosophy. Top of that list would be an out-and-out goalscorer. Neal Maupay has been good for the Amex-outfit this season, but his goal tally should be at least doubled considering the chances he has had, missing eight big chances to date. The Frenchman looks rash and excited in front of goal, lacking the real composure needed to put the ball in the back of the net. He has proven, that alongside a strike-partner he can perform so Potter should really be looking for a target man for the ex-Brentford forward to run off of.

Despite his fiery streak, Alfredo Morelos of Rangers has heaps of talent. The Colombian striker has shown on the European stage that he is a top centre forward and can score heaps of goals. With Florin Andone shown the door after his rash tackle against Yan Valery of Southampton, Potter has shown he is not willing to tolerate a hot-headed player. This will be a huge factor when deciding whether Morelos is the man for the job but if Potter’s gentle man-management style can calm the temper of the 23-year-old then he would be a brilliant coup.

As would Donyell Malen of PSV. So far, Brighton have had poor luck when recruiting forwards from the Eredivise, with Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Jurgen Locadia looking well below-par when signed. However, former-Arsenal graduate Malen has scored 17 goals in 25 appearances this season in all competitions as well as averaging just under a goal a game in the Europa League. Many bigger clubs are interested in the signature of the Dutchman but with consistent game time on-offer and the prospect of sending old fan favourite Jahanbakhsh back to PSV, Brighton might be a favourable option if we were to offer a reasonable fee.

Ins and Outs: An Aussie Exit?

Finally, a statement that will more than certainly cause controversy amongst the Albion community: Maty Ryan may need replacing. It goes without saying that the Aussie has had a brilliant few seasons at Brighton and has earned some well-deserved praise after some remarkable individual displays, however this season some of his weaknesses have come to be more prominent than others. Playing out the back has shown that the shot-stopper is certainly better with his hands than his feet, and although his groundwork has improved massively this season, a keeper that is comfortable with the ball at his feet may be the way forward for Potter.

Claudio Bravo is obviously earning a fine wage warming the bench of Manchester City, but if the Chilean was to look for one or two more seasons of first-team football then the South Coast may be the best answer for the ex-Barcelona keeper.

Bravo is brilliant with his feet and has the ability to retain possession well under pressure, an attribute that Johan Cruyff has been crying out for keepers to learn for centuries.

Another option comes from Real Betis, with Joel Robles performing well for the Spanish side. The former Everton goalkeeper has been crucial to the surprising success of Betis, who are playing attractive and possession-based football; just like Brighton. The 6ft5 keeper has played a massive role in the possession retention football style that was implemented by manager Quique Setien before he was lured away by Barcelona, with his side roughly averaging 16 seconds on the ball each time they have possession, one of the highest times in Europe.

Robles wouldn’t be the most expensive goalkeepers to sign and would add pressure to the goalkeeping department, which currently lacks immediate depth, with David Button and Jason Steele filling second-choice and third-choice places.

For now, only time will tell for what the future holds for the Albion. No one knows when the season will finish or even whether the season will finish, but all we can hope for is brighter days ahead of us. And I don’t doubt that I speak on behalf of all of us at Overtime when I say, we hope you stay healthy and well.

For more Seagulls Summary check out the previous edition, where Charlie takes us through what formation is best for Graham Potter’s men.

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