‘I expect more’ – Roberto De Zerbi gives damning assessment on Brighton’s low-risk transfer signing

Mahmoud Dahoud of Brighton & Hove AlbionMahmoud Dahoud of Brighton & Hove Albion
Mahmoud Dahoud of Brighton & Hove Albion
Roberto De Zerbi says he “expects more” from Mahmoud Dahoud after the Brighton summer signing was left out of their FA Cup win over Stoke City.

The midfielder swapped Borussia Dortmund for Albion last June on a free transfer and since then he has played 14 times, with nine of those being starts.

However, the 28-year-old has barely played for the Seagulls since his reckless red card against Sheffield United in late November, something head coach De Zerbi was reportedly not happy about.

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The two-time German international played 45 minutes against Burnley in early December, was then an unused substitute for the Sussex side’s last four Premier League matches, and then did not travel for the 4-2 victory at Stoke at the weekend.

Before that match, De Zerbi said this about not picking Dahoud and fellow midfielder Carlos Baleba in the starting XI for the clash against the Championship outfit.

"No. We are going to play with the best team I can choose. [Jakub] Moder plays and then you will see tomorrow,” said the Italian.

Baleba came off the bench for that third-round cup tie triumph at bet365 Stadium on Saturday but Dahoud was back on the south coast. Moder has been on the comeback trail after more than 18 months out with an ACL injury. The fact that he seems to be ahead of him in the pecking order does not bode particularly well for the midfielder.

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Later on, De Zerbi had this damning assessment of the former Borussia Mönchengladbach man.

“I have already spoken to him [Dahoud] a lot of times. I expect more and more from him. More quality, personality, energy, enthusiasm. I was clear with him. It can be difficult at the beginning in another country. In the end, we are competing at the first level of football and you need time, but football, sometimes, can’t give that time,” said the 44-year-old.

Moreover, De Zerbi had this to say about the German after the Stoke win, which involved bringing on under-21 players Jack Hinchy and Benicio Baker-Boaitey.

“At the moment we could play in a different way. We had on the bench Baleba, [James] Milner, [Adam] Lallana in similar positions and I preferred to bring on the bench two young players from the academy (Hinchy and Baker-Boaitey),” he said.

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This was a low-risk signing from Brighton. An experienced player with Bundesliga experience, who, undoubtedly, has quality. But it appears he is not in De Zerbi’s good books at present and unless there is a quick turnaround, Dahoud may not play a great deal in the second half of the season.

Albion’s midfield is not as strong as it was last season, when it boasted Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister. Arguably, the Seagulls have not replaced that dynamic duo and while Dahoud seemed like an astute purchase, this transfer deal has not gone to plan thus far. An interesting few months lie ahead for the German.