Brighton’s top talent continues to turn the heads of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, with a host of Seagulls stars on the radar of wealthier rivals.
Roberto De Zerbi’s side are pushing for a place in Europe for the first time in their history this season, having climbed to sixth following an unbeaten start to the new year.
Brighton’s success has been built on unearthing gems and turning them into high-cost diamonds and there are a number of names who could follow in the footsteps of Ben White, Marc Cucurella, Yves Bissouma and Leandro Trossard in leaving for high fees to Premier League rivals.
Here are five Brighton players who ‘Big Six’ clubs could fight over this summer.
Brighton double downed on their stance that Moises Caicedo was not for sale last month, as the Seagulls fought off interest from Chelsea and Arsenal in the midfielder. Chelsea saw a verbal approach rejected as Graham Potter looked to reunite with the 21-year-old at Stamford Bridge, before Arsenal entered the race and saw two bids turned down.
Caicedo made clear his desire for an exit in a post on social media, as the Ecuadorian pushed for a move to the Gunners late in the window. Roberto De Zerbi hinted that a summer exit was possible for Caicedo, who has been a revelation for Brighton since his return from a loan spell at Beerschot in 2021/22.
The midfielder made his Premier Leaguedebut for Brighton last April and has since been a fixture in a side which has pushed for a place for Europe this season, covering the loss of Yves Bissouma to Tottenham with a series of all-action performances.
A prolific ball-winner and dominant in defensive duels, his displays have attracted significant interest from England’s top clubs with Liverpool also said to have placed Caicedo on their radar. Brighton will be reluctant to lose the 28-cap international, but a fee in excess of £60m would represent incredible business for a club who spent just £4.5m to sign Caicedo from Ecuadorian outfit Independiente del Valle in 2020.
The Seagulls have proven on more than one occasion their ability to sell on top talent and continue improving.
Alexis Mac Allister
Alexis Mac Allister is another of the gems that Brighton has unearthed from their South American scouting network, having brought in the midfielder from Argentinos Juniors in 2019.
After loan spells with his former side and Boca Juniors, Mac Allister made his Brighton debut during the 2019/20 campaign and has since made 91 appearances in all competitions. Last season proved a breakthrough as the midfielder found consistency in his performances, earning a recall to the Argentina national side after an almost three-year absence.
Mac Allister retained his place in La Albiceleste’s plans ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and made six appearances – scoring his first international goal against Poland – as Argentina were crowned world champions. In the process, he became Brighton’s first ever World Cup winner.
The 24-year-old’s exploits on the international stage have since increased speculation surrounding his future. Atletico Madrid and several of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ have been credited as admirers of the midfielder, who has scored five league goals and completed an impressive 89.1% of his passes for Brighton so far this season.
Evan Ferguson has announced his arrival as a Premier League player this season, with the Irish teenager having taken to the top-flight with ease.
Ferguson has averaged a goal or assist every 69 minutes for the Seagulls across all competitions, having provided four goals and three assists in just five starts.
Robust, powerful and a fine finisher, the 18-year-old appears to have all the attributes to end Brighton’s search for a reliable focal point in the final third. Ferguson is understood to have turned down Liverpool before his move to Brighton, following an emergence in the League of Ireland that saw the striker make his senior debut for Bohemians aged just 14.
The move to Brighton has presented Ferguson with a clearer path to first-team football and he already appears ready-made for the demands of the Premier League. It’s early days, but Ferguson appears the brightest Irish prospect for some time and his emergence will not have gone unnoticed.
In a division where the most difficult commodity to come by is goals, Ferguson has fired freely in the early stages of his Brightoncareer.
Pervis Estupinan is the perfect example of Brighton’s recruitment model, brought in amid minimal fuss before becoming a key cog in the club’s system.
Marc Cucurella’s exit was seen as a blow when the Spaniard completed a £62m move to Chelsea last summer, having earned the Seagulls’ Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season accolades after a fine debut season in the Premier League.
Estupinan was brought in for a fraction of the fee received and while Cucurella has struggled since his switch to the capital, his replacement has thrived. The Ecuador international has been in brilliant form for Brighton, marauding forward from left-back and defending with discipline for Roberto De Zerbi’s side.
His attributes are ideally suited to the role of wing-back and the 25-year-old has proven another astute addition from the club’s recruitment team. With a greater emphasis than ever on the contribution from full-back, ‘Big Six’ clubs could be on alert. Manchester City and Tottenham are among those expected to target a left-back in the summer.
Kaoru Mitoma has hogged the headlines in recent weeks with a string of superb performances for an upwardly moving Brighton side.
Commentators and pundits have fought (unsuccessfully) to fight the burning urge to mention the winger’s university thesis on the art of dribbling, as the Japan international has left full-backs contorted and confused.
Mitoma has been a revelation for the Seagulls with his performances having allowed Brighton to cut ties with the wantaway Leandro Trossard without concern. The 24-year-old has now scored five goals in eight games since the season’s restart, growing into his role in De Zerbi’s side.
Boasting sharp speed and nimble footwork, he is capable of consistently beating defenders on the outside or when bursting infield from the flank. Signed for just £2.5m, Brighton will make a huge profit on Mitoma if the club decide to cash in