Why Graeme Souness is completely wrong about Brighton's Tariq Lamptey

At just a shade over 5ft 4in tall, yesterday would not have been the first occasion Brighton defender Tariq Lamptey heard the words too small to play football at the highest level.

Monday, 19th October 2020, 1:25 pm
Brighton's Tariq Lamptey was at the centre of a controversial penalty decision at Crystal Palace

This time it was former Liverpool and Scotland midfielder Graeme Souness who questioned Lamptey during his halftime analysis of Crystal Palace's dubious penalty against Brighton.

Instead of focusing on a blatant dive from Palace striker Michy Batshuayi and that VAR then failed to overturn Stuart Attwell's poor decision, Souness called out Lamptey for his lack of height.

"What is he, 5ft 5in?" Souness said as he tried to justify the penalty. "Lamptey just gets caught the other side.

Tariq Lamptey took a few knocks during an all action display against Crystal Palace

"If you are playing against Brighton, if the ball goes wide get yourself on Lamptey. Other teams might see that as a vulnerable area."

Yes Lamptey is probably the smallest defender in the Premier League and when you see him alongside Albion's tallest defender, the 6ft 7in Dan Burn, it can look quite comical.

But Lamptey's height was not the reason a penalty was awarded. It was simply a bad call from Attwell and even worse from VAR not to over-rule it.

The only outcome will be to encourage more players to dive and crumple to floor at the slightest touch.

Palace striker Michy Batshuayi crumples to the floor after a brush from Tariq Lamptey

Souness' co-pundit for the day Darren Moore tried to explain that Lamptey will adapt. Moore correctly said the best smaller defenders learn use their body to unbalance opponents when challenging for higher balls which can be just as effective.

"I have to disagree with that," Souness said. "Lamptey is always going to be vulnerable to being pinned."

Lamptey, 20, has made a huge impact since his arrival from Chelsea for £3m last January. His pace adds a new dimension to Albion in defence and attack and dismissing him as too small does the England under-21 a disservice.

Perhaps Souness should remember the likes of Danny Alves, (who happens to be Lamptey's favourite player) is just over an inch taller than the Brighton defender at 5ft 6in.

Alves won 118 caps for Brazil and has three Champions League medals and numerous league titles.

The brilliant French full back Bixente Lizarazu stood tall at 5ft 5in, played almost 100 times for his country and was a World Cup and European champion.

Philip Lahm was the former captain of Bayern Munich and at 5ft 6in the full back also led his national team to a World Cup triumph in 2014.

And going back a little further, Manchester United's Paul Parker was the same height as Lamptey and was one of England's best defenders as Bobby Robson's team reached the semi-finals of Italia 90.

Digging Lamptey for his height was an easy one for Souness but he's completely wrong.

The Brighton youngster is proving himself at the highest level. He's one of England's brightest prospects and he plays the role of the modern day wing back or full back better than most.

Albion head coach Graham Potter admits his defender is still learning on the job but said the youngster has been a breath of fresh air since his arrival from Chelsea.

All throughout his young career with Chelsea and now Brighton, Lamptey would have been proving people wrong and the words of Souness will be nothing new to him.