Arsenal target Yves Bissouma credits a surprising ex-Brighton star for his Premier League rise

Albion midfielder Yves Bissouma highlighted the importance of experienced and positive role models as his career progressed at Brighton

Yves Bissouma is a powerful and skilful presence in the Brighton midfield
Yves Bissouma is a powerful and skilful presence in the Brighton midfield

Bissouma, 24, admits he has matured and his personality has changed for the better thanks to the guidance of Albion's experienced professionals.

The Mali international midfielder arrived from a youthful Lille team for £15m in 2018 and says the likes of Lewis Dunk, Glenn Murray, Dale Stephens, Pascal Gross, Davy Propper and especially Gaetan Bong showed him what it takes to be a Premier League player.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

"I have changed," said Bissouma as he prepares to face Crystal Palace at the Amex Stadium this Monday.

"When I was in France I was not of the maturity because in Lille every player was young.

"But when I came here the team changed me because there was Gaetan, Glenn Murray, Dunky, Dale, Pascal and Davy.

"I see what they do before training, after training and with their life. I was very close with Gaetan, he helped me so much as a person."

Bisouma's comments came just days after former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan questioned Brighton's wisdom in the transfer market, having signed experienced campaigners Adam Lallana and Danny Welbeck on free transfers last summer.

Lallana and Welbeck have had their injury issues but their experience and how they conduct themselves in training and matchdays is invaluable to the likes of Alexis Mac Allister, Ben White, Steven Alzate, Tariq Lamptey, Rob Sanchez and Aaron Connolly as they begin their careers in the top flight.

It has not always been easy for Bissouma who struggled for game time with Brighton at the start of last season and was recovering from shoulder surgery when Graham Potter arrived from Swansea in 2019.

Stephens and Propper were the preferred options in central midfield but Bissouma eventually gained Potter's trust and he and the club have benefited from his extended run in the team.

The former Lille man has been Brighton's most consistent midfielder this campaign and continues to be heavily linked with big money move to Arsenal this summer.

Yves Bissouma was close friends with Gaetan Bong during his time at Brighton

"When we came he had an injury," said Potter, who is pleased with the progress of his midfielder.

"He'd had surgery on his shoulder. We started the season quite well and it was Dale and Davy were playing in midfield and Yves had to be patient.

"Then, when you have missed a lot of time it takes a while to get up to speed in the Premier League. He worked hard to build his fitness back up and he has now benefited from playing.

His consistency has improved and I think everybody knows his best actions are incredibly high but it is about increasing his lower levels so there is not such a big gap.

He has done really well with that and his understanding of the game has improved and his decision making has improved.

"There is still a lot to do but that is also exciting because there is more to come from Yves."