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Brighton chief admits he cannot control clubs pursuing Roberto De Zerbi

Chief executive Paul Barber says Brighton cannot control clubs pursuing manager Roberto De Zerbi.

Roberto De Zerbi

Brighton’s chief executive and deputy chairman Paul Barber says he can do nothing to prevent clubs from pursuing head coach Roberto De Zerbi.

The Italian has done an excellent job since taking over from Graham Potter in 2022, guiding the Seagulls to Europe for the first time in their history.

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His successes have been rewarded with praise from pundits and other managers in the Premier League and he is now being linked with a move to some of Europe’s top clubs.

Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Barcelona and Chelsea have reportedly had De Zerbi’s name on their shortlists as a potential recruit but the man himself has admitted he does not want to leave Brighton.

However, Barber, who was involved in bringing the 44-year-old to the South Coast, admits he is powerless if the big boys come knocking and will rely on De Zerbi’s commitment to his contract to prevent him from being lured away.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: “Privately, Roberto is quiet, calm, reasonable and sensible.

“He understands what our limitations are. Behind the scenes, the model is very well known to him.

“He has got two more years to go. My understanding is that he is happy. He likes the club. He likes this group of players a lot. He knows he has a good owner. He knows he has good facilities.

“He knows it is a club that has a particular model and we won’t break it for anyone. Those are consistent.

“He also knows he can see me or Tony [owner Tony Bloom] at any time. There are no surprises.

“What we can’t control is a club anywhere in the world coming in and making an approach for him.

“But we knew that with Graham Potter, and Chris Hughton, who did a great job for us.

“We are very cognisant of that happening to us but we have a plan for all those eventualities.”

Brighton can finish in the top half of the Premier League table again this season if they can pick up some points in their final two games.

It would mark another impressive achievement for De Zerbi who has had to manage the demands of Europe despite working with Brighton’s small squad.

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Mitch Fretton

Mitch is a freelance sports journalist with experience working for LiveScore, GOAL and Colchester United. He has experience working from both his desk at home and in the press box at games covering the Champions League and international football.