Brighton star declares next aim after witnessing South American midfield friend 'tear it up'

Next season's Brighton and Hove Albion team could see some additional South American attacking flair.

Brighton and Hove Albion attacker Jeremy Sarmiento will be at this year's World Cup with Ecuador.
Brighton and Hove Albion attacker Jeremy Sarmiento will be at this year's World Cup with Ecuador.

Jeremy Sarmiento had brief spells in the first XI last term but the 19-year-old Ecuador international is determined to play a more significant role next season.

Sarmiento made seven appearances for Albion across all competitions as he featured in the Carabao Cup matches against Swansea and Leicester.

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The also attacker made his first Premier League start at West Ham in December but lasted just 13 minutes before he was forced off with a serious hamstring problem.

It was an injury that required surgery and four months of rehabilitation before he returned to the first team in April where he featured from the bench against Norwich, Man City and Southampton.

Sarmiento adds to Albion's growing ranks of South American internationals, alongside Alexis Mac Allister of Argentina, Steven Alzate of Colombia and his fellow countryman Moises Caicedo.

Sarmiento said he's been inspired by the performances of Caicedo following an impressive start to his Albion career after returning from his loan spell in Belgium last January.

Caicedo started in all eight of Albion’s final Premier League matches, as Graham Potter’s team secured a record ninth-place finish in the top-tier.

“When I knew Moises was coming back from Belgium, from the first minute I was with him helping him with whatever he needed,” Sarmiento said. “I have also learned a lot from him on the pitch.

“He is playing all the matches, he is tearing it up and that pushes me to be in the team with him on the same pitch.

"It is fantastic to have a friend who I can share things with at Brighton and in the Ecuador squad.”

Both of Albion's Ecuador stars played for their country yesterday as the beat Cape Verde in 1-0 friendly at the DRV PNK Stadium in Florida.

Despite Sarmiento's injury problems this campaign he continues to be a key player for his national team, having made his international debut in October 2021.

Ecuador are one of four South American teams who have already qualified for the Qatar World Cup finals later this year, along with Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. Fifth-placed Peru face a playoff next week.

Ecuador are in Group A alongside hosts Qatar, Senegal and the Netherlands. The World Cup kicks off on Nov. 21.

The Albion man has been surprised by his rapid rise to international football and will hope to play a role at the World Cup.

“I was surprised to get the call-up then to tell the truth, It was very quick.

"But I could see they had this trust in me, that [Ecuador head coach] Gustavo Alfaro still has.

"I thank him a lot, not only him but the staff and coaches as well.

“I’ve had injuries this season and it has not been easy for me. They know I’m not at my maximum yet – I am still recovering – but they still keep me in mind, they still have this confidence in me.

“I’m very grateful for this chance to help the team. I’m happy.”