Brighton & Hove Albion’s Premier League safety is already secured, meaning there is little riding on the final three matches of the season, save for the £2 million difference in prize money between each finishing position in the table.
West Ham, Manchester City and Arsenal therefore present Potter with a rare pressure-free chance to experiment. Dunk and Maupay’s absences make the justification for doing so a little easier with a relatively decent queue of young players with something to prove forming to take the two available spots in the starting XI.
Finding out if Brighton’s fringe players are up to the task is particularly important ahead of this summer. It seems likely that Yves Bissouma will be sold and Ben White could follow him out the door.
Tariq Lamptey garnered plenty of attention before spending five months on the treatment table and if somebody is willing to take a risk on his fitness issues, he too may attract a big money bid.
Most Albion supporters are surprisingly relaxed at the prospect of selling off some of the family silver. There is a realisation that Bissouma’s talents are deserving of a bigger stage.
Money wise, Brighton made a £67 million loss in the 2019-20 season. If Potter wants to sign players – hello new striker – then he will need to sell to fund a spending spree. Even if no new faces were incoming, who could begrudge Bloom trying to claw back some cash by flogging a player or two? The man has pumped in over £300 million of his own money over the past decade, after all.
There is another reason for believing that the sale of the Albion’s best players need not be a disaster. In terms of potential, this is arguably the strongest squad Brighton have had. If Bissouma moves on, there is a clear line of succession which includes Jakub Moder, Steve Alzate and Moises Caicedo.
To take over from White in the event of a defensive sale, Potter has Leo Ostigard, Matt Clarke and Haydon Roberts. Should Lamptey secure a surprise move, Michal Karbownik is waiting in the wings.
Being excited about players who are unproven in the Premier League is however a risky game. Remember the enthusiasm that greeted Jurgen Locadia’s arrival? Or when everyone expected Alireza Jahanbakhsh to take the top flight by storm?
Going back a little further, Augustin Battipiedi looked like a world beater on YouTube and Diego Arismendi was going to be the best player in League One. Turned out the only things Arismendi was any good at was annoying his neighbours by playing loud music at 2am in the morning and getting sent off.
These last three matches of the season give Potter a golden opportunity to learn a little more about the current fringe players in his squad who are being heralded as the next big things. Whether they look at home in the top flight or resemble someone who has won a cornflake competition to be a professional footballer for a day will inform the Albion about what the long-term future may hold.
It would be nice to see Karbownik get a run out after impressing against a much-changed Leicester City in the FA Cup. Moder has been deployed out-of-position as a wing back for much of his Brighton career so far. How he fares in central midfield would answer the question about how Brighton replace Bissouma.
Caicedo arrived being heralded as the best young player in South America. That is quite a tag. A Premier League debut for him would offer a glimpse of just how talented the teenager from Ecuador is.
The most intriguing position though is up front, which is why Maupay’s suspension is a good thing. Nobody needs reminding of the fact that Brighton have struggled for goals this season. Two of Potter’s strikers have hardly had a sniff – Andi Zeqiri and Percy Tau.
Zeqiri has looked decent enough in his cameos from the bench and in the FA Cup. There is a touch of Glenn Murray about him, making him different to what the Albion have. If he ends up being half as good a finisher as Murray, then what good news that will be.
As for Tau, he impressed against Manchester City on his only Premier League start to date. In the absence of Maupay, the Lion of Judah would be an intriguing option to partner Danny Welbeck as we really have no clue whether Tau is cut out for English football or not.
Brighton have never secured top flight safety before with three games still to play. The next 270 minutes can either indicate just how bright the future is or whether we have misjudged the depth and talent in this squad. It is chance Potter should not pass up.
Article courtesy of: www.wearebrighton.com