Brighton captain Lewis Dunk is ‘absolutely’ staying, Adam Webster is close to signing and a new striker hasn’t been ruled out as Graham Potter’s squad begins to take shape ahead of Saturday’s Premier League kick-off at Watford.
Albion completed their pre-season fixtures last night with a 2-1 victory against a decent Valencia team in front of 16,000-plus fans at the Amex. A penalty from Glenn Murray and a header from Shane Duffy sealed the win after Rodrigo had but the visitors ahead in the first half. It was an encouraging display from Brighton, who lined-up in a 3-4-3 formation, but much of the discussion after the match centred on who is coming and who is going.
Webster is expected to complete a club record £20m move from Bristol City very soon. It was feared his arrival would be at the expense of skipper Dunk, who has been persistently linked with a £40m move to Leicester throughout the summer.
Potter was adamant Dunk will remain: Are you certain your captain will be here next season? “Yeah.” Anymore to say? “No.” You are planning for him in your side? “Absolutely!”
Keeping Dunk is a huge boost. Dunk and Duffy looked very comfortable in Potter’s favoured back three while Dan Burn was excellent on the left side of the defensive line.
Burn was confident and rarely looked troubled against a very mobile Valencia attack and also linked well with Solly March, who was operating as left wing back.
Burn said, “I know that I’ve given absolutely everything I can to try and get myself into the manager’s plans and I hope it’s enough. If it’s not, then so be it.
“Every manager brings a different philosophy. I like to learn, as I’ve played under lots of different managers and styles of football.”
Burn’s pre-season displays and the addition of Webster will give Potter much-needed options for the Premier League campaign and it has enabled defender Matt Clarke, a summer signing from Portsmouth, to complete a season long loan move to Championship side Derby.
Leandro Trossard gave glimpses of his potential on his first appearance at the Amex. The £15m arrival from Genk was named man of the match and it was difficult to argue with that decision. It was a performance full of energy and skill and Potter hopes he can replicate that against the more physical teams in the Premier.
“He can play in the space, technically he’s very good,” said the Albion manager. “His intelligence, his decision making is really good in the final third.
“The challenges are of course adapting to life in a different country, a different league. The physicality of the league is higher but you have to play to his strengths. He’s very good in tight spaces and his low centre of gravity means he can move quickly. As long as we use what he has, then he’s a talented player.”
Murray and Jurgen Locadia were the focal point of the attack on Friday but whether they start together against Watford could depend on what business is concluded between now and then.
The club are said to have bid £18.2m for Leganes’ Morocco international striker Youssef En-Nesyri. Albion are also favourites - ahead of Aston Villa - to land Brentford’s French striker Neal Maupay who impressed in the Championship last season.
Maupay, 22, arrived from St Etienne in the summer of 2017 and the £20m rated forward has scored 37 league goals in his first two seasons.
“We will look for the right character and the right person that will help our team,” said Potter. “That’s what we will try to do right up until the end of the window.”