Brighton continued their progression in the top flight of English football earlier today when Roberto De Zerbi presided over his first win in the Premier League on Graham Potter’s return to the American Express Community Stadium as the Seagulls thrashed Chelsea 4-1 on the south coast.
Now under the Italian tactician, the club looks to put faith in incremental gains over the last few years - first under Potter - with De Zerbi viewed as the right man to pick up the mantle, but the former Unione Sportiva Sassuolo Calcio and FC Shakhtar Donetsk manager may be set for his first big transfer test after reports in The Mirror suggests that the Seagulls are preparing to cash in on Ecuadorian international starlet Moisés Caicedo amid interest from top Premier League clubs.
Caicedo, still just 20, has shot to prominence for the Premier League minnows after an initial loan spell with Belgian Jupiler Pro League outfit Koninklijke Beerschot VA saw him recalled during the January transfer window last season, which he would return to England and immediately work his way into the preferred XI under Potter.
The Ecuadorian midfielder, who could be set for a prominent role for his country at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar beginning next month, is now arguably the club’s prized possession after Belgium international forward Leandro Trossard, and as interest grows from bigger domestic fish, Brighton has slapped an £85m price tag on the Santo Domingo native.
A potential departure for Caicedo would be the latest in a string of key losses for the club both on and off the pitch. Potter’s departure to Stamford Bridge - which was preceded by Marc Cucurella’s ~£56m summer move to west London - had both come in the wake of former club Technical Director Dan Ashworth departing for the heavily-funded project on Tyneside.
It should come as no surprise that both Chelsea and Newcastle United are two of the clubs who are prepared to enter the race for Caicedo, with previous interest from Liverpool and Manchester United still credible.
With the bitter Premier League rivals reportedly looking at alternatives to Youri Tielemans as Arsenal remain in pole position for the Belgian midfielder, Caicedo may find himself one of the most coveted central targets on the market in the summer.
Caicedo himself has said he is happy at the Amex, however, stating “I’m very happy here at Brighton. I’m not thinking about any other club than Brighton. This is the club where I am now and I will give everything for this club and to keep doing well here.”
A poignant show of commitment to his current employers no doubt, but as ever, money usually speaks loudest when the time comes, and Brighton would do exceptionally well to keep hold of the Ecuadorian if European football comes calling.