Pascal Gross explains how Brighton have coped after selling their best players to Chelsea and Liverpool
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The Albion are preparing to play their first-ever game of European football, when they welcome AEK Athens to the Amex Stadium for the opening game of the Europa League group stages.
The Seagulls qualified for the continent's second biggest competition after achieving their highest-ever top flight finish last season.
Two of Brighton’s best players – Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister – were sold this summer for a combined total of £150m, leaving many to fear the Sussex side would be unable to match the achievements of the prior campaign.
Roberto De Zerbi’s men have so far proved the doubters wrong, winning four of their first five league games of the season.
The Italian coach has turned to the versatile Pascal Gross to slot into one of the vacant midfield roles. The German has repaid the faith shown in him by De Zerbi, scoring two goals already this term and leading by example in the middle of the park with a number of high-level performances.
When Gross was asked what the secret to Brighton’s continued success was, he said: “I think the secret is the way we work everyday and the way the manager works, maybe you only see eleven players at the weekend, but we have 22 good players.We have no problem, if someone can’t play, someone else comes in and does the job because he gets the same training and information. So everyone is improving.”
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Gross was Albion’s first signing after achieving promotion to the Premier League back in 2017. The 32-year-old scored the club’s first-ever Premier League goal against West Bromwich Albion and has gone on to make 219 appearances for the club, notching up 29 goals in the process.
In his six-year stint at the club, Gross has played as a defensive midfielder, right-back, attacking midfielder and forward for three different managers.
The club's all-time top goal scorer in the Premier League has seen the club rise from a relegation-threatened team to one competing against the footballing elite, thanks in no small part to the work of current boss De Zerbi.
Gross said his current gaffer helped the squad to believe they could achieve great things as a group.
He explained: “I think I can speak for the whole squad and for the whole team. Everyone is really happy that we can work with him, because every single player is improving. We are improving as a team. We started to believe we could achieve something big. Last year, there was ten games to go where we weren't sure if we could reach the top six.
"He told us we can and we started to believe we can, because the performance showed that we deserved to be there. We are not happy and we are still hungry. Every player, the whole staff are hungry.
"We want to become better. Every day in training. And that’s the secret, we need to stay hungry.”
Gross is likely to start when Brighton face AEK Athens tonight (September 21) – kick off 8.00pm.