Steve Bailey: Akpom has all the tools to be a success at Albion

Chuba Akpom is on loan at Albion from Arsenal. Picture by Paul Hazlewood (BHAFC)Chuba Akpom is on loan at Albion from Arsenal. Picture by Paul Hazlewood (BHAFC)
Chuba Akpom is on loan at Albion from Arsenal. Picture by Paul Hazlewood (BHAFC)

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First impressions count for a lot and new Albion loan signing Chuba Akpom certainly made a strong impact at his first press conference for the club on Tuesday afternoon.

The 21-year-old has joined the Seagulls on loan from Premier League giants Arsenal and he introduced himself to every member of the press individually with ‘Hi, I’m Chuba, nice to meet you’.

A simple gesture but it was an indication straight away that he is a player who will seamlessly fit into an Albion squad which has character and a strong team spirit.

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Seagulls boss Chris Hughton would have found out about Akpom’s character before signing him until the end of the season.

The Albion manager also has a link with the new signing as they both attended the same school, St Bonaventure’s, in London.

One thing that came across when Akpom spoke was his determination to do well. He spoke about seeing his team-mate Alex Iwobi, who he went to primary school with, become a first-team regular at Arsenal – which is his motivation – and how he’s glad to have joined a team with experienced strikers who he can learn from.

After a loan spell at Hull City last season, he returned to the Gunners with the aim of kicking on this season but a back injury in September ruled him out for four months.

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His response? “I’ve got to take the positives from it, push on and push for promotion.” It’s fair to say he won’t find it too hard to fit in with the Albion squad with that attitude.

Overall, it was a pretty quiet transfer window for Albion, with Akpom and Fikayo Tomori, from Chelsea, the only new signings, both on loan, while Glenn Murray turned his loan into a permanent deal. A few fringe players also departed, mainly on loan, to get game time.

Keeping all of the key players was arguably more important for Brighton this transfer window than making too many additions.

Hughton said as much on Tuesday – that chairman Tony Bloom’s resolve to keep the best players meant there were few bids for Albion players this window: “It’s massively important but we were always confident we would.

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“We’ve got a chairman who, with some of the bids that have come in for our players, has made everybody aware he doesn’t want any of them to go – not so much this window, but in previous windows.

“We were always quite confident in this window that we would keep all our best players and that’s massively important for us.”

Elsewhere in the Championship, Reading made shrewd deadline-day signings by bringing in Lewis Grabban, Reece Oxford and Jordan Mutch.

Sheffield Wednesday signed striker Jor-dan Rhodes on loan on the final day, while Ross McCormack went to Nottingham Forest in another notable move.

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The big spenders in the Championship this window were Aston Villa, who brought in Scott Hogan from Brentford for £12million, after previously signing Conor Hourihane, James Bree and Birkir Bjarnason. They’re too far adrift to trouble Albion this season but will be hoping for a late play-off push with their new additions.

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