The Seagulls Summary #3: Free Agents

By Charlie Parker-Turner

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

Another week has passed, and the circumstances have worsened; regulations have become more severe, and to cut a long story short: the UK has been put into lockdown. So, to put a brighter twist on things and provide a shining light at the end of the tunnel, I will be discussing the prospect of players becoming free agents that we could sign when the transfer window comes around, as well as the familiar faces which could be shown the door.

The prospect of the Premier League season finishing seems extremely unrealistic, as do all football fans being pleased with the FA’s decision on how the season will conclude. According to UEFA, all top divisions must be finished by the 30th of June. That means that if English football is suspended even further than April 3rd, which it is expected to be, then it could leave clubs to have to play 9 or ten games within the space of a month, which is ridiculously unlikely.

With that being said, no matter how the season ends, the inevitable will occur with familiar faces coming and going. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, less financially competent clubs (most bottom-half clubs) may have to look into cheaper signings due to the hit their incomes will have taken due to the postponement of fixtures. The most realistic option being the out of contract/free-agent market.

FIFA have said that players who are due to leave on contract expiry terms are only allowed to leave when the season is completed, so we await to see how the season will finish before we can make judgments on when the transfer window will be, but whenever it is there will be serious transfer movement without any fees.

There a few big-name players whose contracts expire this Summer (30th of June to be precise, subject to season end), including David Silva, Dries Mertens and Edinson Cavani, but there are also some more realistic targets that Brighton might be eying up this transfer window.

But before we get into that, with the good comes the bad, there are two Albion players who we could be seeing the departure of Beram Kayal and Ezequiel Schelotto.

Kayal played a huge role in the midfield that tore up the Championship in 2015-16, where Albion were cruelly denied promotion, Mike Dean still has blood on his hands to this day. The Israeli was also important in the forever rotating midfield when Brighton clinched promotion to the Premier League, where Dale Stephens, Steve Sidwell, Oliver Norwood and Kayal were rotated on almost a game-by-game basis.

Since being promoted, Kayal’s impact has dropped massively. The arrivals of Pascal Gross, Yves Bissouma and Davy Propper has meant that the 31-year-old has only had game time via the bench or through suspensions to the other midfielders. This matched with how Kayal has had no minutes for the Albion under Graham Potter, instead being loaned to Charlton Athletic, means that the hard-working, battling midfielder could be shown the door.

Another player who could potentially be shown the door by Graham Potter is Ezequiel Schelotto, however, this seems more unlikely then Kayal. The Italian has stepped-up since returning from his short loan at Chievo earlier in the season, putting in a man of the match worthy display against West Ham which helped The Seagulls score two late goals to clinch a 3-3 draw.

‘The Greyhound’ has only been selected in certain fixtures where the emphasis is on dominating the opposition and attacking, as ironically Schelotto appears stronger when attacking than defending. When matched with a target-man to aim at, the 30-year-old flourishes as his unnatural stance on the ball makes him all the more unpredictable, allowing to jink past his man and deliver a cross. If the Albion were to let the ex-Sporting defender go then one would hope we are back in the market for a right-back to compete with Martin Montoya, or we are making Steven Alzate or Solly March more natural fit for the flexible full-back role.

Potential Incomings

A player that Graham Potter may be fond of due to his versatility is Manchester United’s Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who is able to play as a central midfielder, a defensive midfielder, right-back and centre-back. The Netherlands international’s spell at United appears to have come to an end after never really breaking into the first-team set-up after six years at the club, having loan stints at Fulham and Crystal Palace during that time. Fosu-Mensah may not be the first name on the team sheet if he were to join the Seagulls, however, as a squad player, he would be ideal, being able to slot into a back-three when needed to provide the acceleration and agility that the current trio of Dan Burn, Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy so desperately lack.

At just 22-years-old, the six-foot-five powerhouse has the potential to improve, and despite the lack of time on the pitch at Manchester United, the fact he was on their books for that long indicates that the Academy product is a good prospect.

Another top prospect that the Albion could be lucky enough to get their hands on is Janet Tanganga of Tottenham Hotspur. The 18-year-old has only made six appearances for Spurs this season, but three of those have come against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, where he stepped up massively. It was rumoured that the Englishman was in line for a contract extension at his boyhood club, however, those rumours have gone quiet since February which could indicate some uncertainty in the North London camp.

Tanganga fits the bill perfectly for a Seagulls centre-back, as he played all the way through the Spurs academy in full-back on both sides. The 20-year-old is comfortable with the ball at his feet and is able to distribute the ball well, with only Lewis Dunk in the Seagulls backline being the defender that is accurate in playing longer passes to switch the play or behind the opposition backline.

Brighton would need a stroke of luck to be able to sign this quality England prospect, but with the promise of consistent game time and over £15,000 per week potentially available, the Seagulls have as good a chance as any in securing Tanganga’s signature.

And last but by no means least, I thought I’d add a realistic marquee signing into the mix in the shape of Adam Lallana. The English international is looking to relaunch his career after a disappointing, injury-ridden spell and if Jurgen Klopp decides not to activate the one-year extension in his contract then the midfielder will be sent on his way. Lallana would add a touch of class to the Albion and if he returned to his peak fitness, could act as a good box-to-box midfielder in the future.

Recently the ex-Southampton man has operated in a deep-lying centre midfield role, operating in front of the backline and spraying the ball forward at every opportunity. However, those appearances have been scarce and predominantly in cup appearances with academy players, which indicated that maybe the 31-year-olds six-year spell at the club is ending.

The Seagulls have never really had a marquee signing since being promoted, nor have they signed Premier League proven players so this would be a very out-of-character signing by Potter and his recruitment team, however, Albion fans would inevitably welcome the skilful midfielder with open arms.

And finally, there are many goalkeepers reaching the end of their careers, and in turn the end of their contracts, this June. If Brighton were in the market for another shot-stopper who is good with their feet then interest could turn to the experience of 36-year-olds Ben Foster, Claudio Bravo or Michel Vorm.

Thank you for reading this week’s column, I hope that in this difficult time the column has acted a distraction to the fear outside our doorsteps. Until next week, stay safe, stay indoors and stay healthy.

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