Brighton have found their man to replace Graham Potter as the club’s new manager, with Italian Roberto De Zerbi signing a four-year contract at the Amex Stadium.
The former Shakhtar Donetsk and Sassuolo boss has been identified by the Brighton hierarchy as the ideal candidate to preserve the team’s progressive tactical structure and style of play which proved so successful under the auspices of Graham Potter before he left for Chelsea.
We take a look at the 43-year-old’s managerial credentials and assess what he can bring to an in-form Brighton side currently sat in fourth place in the Premier League...
After beginning his coaching career in the Italian lower leagues, winning the Coppa Italia Serie C with Foggia and earning plaudits for his possession-oriented approach at Benevento despite their relegation to Serie B, it was at Sassuolo where De Zerbi’s reputation truly blossomed.
Achieving two consecutive eighth-placed finishes in the Italian top-flight, narrowly missing out on Europa Conference League qualification to Jose Mourinho’s Roma on goal difference in 2020/21, De Zerbi’s Sassuolo side were regarded as one of the most exciting teams to watch in the country.
Developing talented domestic players such as Domenico Berardi and Manuel Locatelli who both shone for Italy during their successful EURO 2020 campaign, De Zerbi’s Sassuolo team sought to dominate the ball and hurt teams with quick, incisive passing in the final third.
The Brighton board are likely to have been impressed by De Zerbi’s ability at Sassuolo to improve players and outperform sides with greater financial resources whilst playing attractive football, the model which the Seagulls themselves strive to employ in the Premier League.
You can back De Zerbi to oversee a top six finish for Brighton in the Premier League this season at odds of 10/3.
Graham Potter’s reign at Brighton became defined by his propensity to alter his tactical setup and formation fluidly, sometimes even mid-game.
De Zerbi was known for similar at Sassuolo, primarily switching between 4-3-3 and 3-4-3 formations which will both be already familiar within the Brighton squad.
Moving on to Ukraine following his successful tenure with Sassuolo, De Zerbi led Shakhtar Donetsk to the Ukrainian Super Cup in September 2021 before departing the club in July with the team sat top of the league.
De Zerbi, whose playing career included a stint with Napoli and a decorated spell in Romania with CFR Cluj, will be charged with replicating the success of his predecessor Potter whilst putting his own stamp on this impressive Brighton side.
The Italian’s appointment should see the continuation of a fluid and possession-based way of playing as orchestrated by Potter, and allow the technically gifted core of Brighton’s squad to prosper.
To this degree, the arrival of De Zerbi will be welcome news to a Brighton squad assembled in light of their ability to play slick passing football, with creative players such as Pascal Gross, Alexis Mac Allister, Leandro Trossard and new signing Billy Gilmour afforded the freedom to flourish.
De Zerbi was also praised for his shrewd transfer business during his time at Sassuolo, which makes him an ideal fit at Brighton considering the club’s reputation for its far-reaching and clinical recruitment strategy which has seen talented players arrive from all over the world.