F365 Says: No fear for Brighton if big boys bag bargain Bissouma

Ian Watson

Yves Bissouma breezed through Brighton’s win over Leeds. Now the Seagulls can embrace the bidding war to come…


That should see Brighton safe. Despite repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot, the only target the Seagulls have hit consistently this season, Graham Potter’s men have got to 37 points, putting 10 points between themselves and the drop zone. With four games to go, Brighton can switch more of their focus to what comes next.

For Potter, that must be the search for a long-term solution to their goalscoring woes. The Seagulls would have been safe weeks, maybe months ago had they not been so profligate in front of goal. Prior to the visit of Leeds, their xG was 47, the eighth highest in the Premier League. Brighton had scored 32 goals, undercutting their xG by 13 goals – a Premier League high to keep the Seagulls low.

They had 51 shots in their previous three matches during which they went goalless. Again, Leeds should have been out of sight by half-time, with Leandro Trossard, Danny Welbeck and Joel Veltman all missing gilt-edged chances.

Even the award of a penalty was no guarantee of an end to their mini-drought. Brighton have missed three spot-kicks this season, including two in the calamitous defeat at West Brom. There was, though, no lack of confidence evident in Pascal Gross’s penalty, reversed under Illan Meslier’s glove as the Leeds keeper threw himself to his right.

Without Kalvin Phillips to stoke the fire in the engine room, Leeds offered nothing by way of a response. Sat snugly in mid-table after home draws with Liverpool and Manchester United, with a wretched record at Brighton, perhaps an off-colour performance should not come as a surprise, even if Marcelo Bielsa was aghast on the sidelines at what was unfolding before him.

Leeds already have one eye on next season with tying down Bielsa their immediate priority. Brighton too may have to address the future of their manager if Tottenham’s interest in Potter is anything more than speculation.

The Seagulls will almost certainly be losing at least one of their key players. A £67.2million loss for the 2019-20 season dictates that one big sale is necessary, as the club’s finance director David Jones told The Athletic in February: “While we have not really sold any players in the past, going forward, to reduce the deficit, clearly, player trading needs to be part of the business.”

Tariq Lamptey’s injury problems will likely delay his next step while there remains feverish activity around Ben White. But Yves Bissouma looks most likely to be the sale to fill the black hole in Brighton’s finances.

The Mali midfielder wasn’t at his marauding best against Leeds – he didn’t have to be. Bissouma and Gross won the midfield battle at a canter, with the former guarding Potter’s three centre-backs, helping to box in Patrick Bamford, nullifying the striker’s threat entirely.

Despite a routine shift, Bissouma still contributed more tackles and interceptions – three of each – than any other Seagull while spraying the ball around with a 90.5% accuracy rate, highlighting why there is queue forming for the 24-year-old.

Liverpool chief contacts Brighton over BissoumaCarragher expects ‘top dollar’ move for Bissouma

Liverpool have been linked with Bissouma this week as they look to source a replacement for Gini Wijnaldum, while Arsenal and Manchester United have also been credited with a serious interest.

At around £40million, the midfielder would be a very savvy buy for all three. For United, it would almost be a two-for-one deal. The signing of a dominant defensive midfielder could free Paul Pogba to play in a deeper role, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cannot currently employ him because of the lack of a suitable partner capable of screening solo.

The Seagulls will certainly welcome the interest. Especially when they already have a ready-made replacement in Moises Caceido. It was reported the United were close to landing the Ecuadorian in January but backed off when agents and intermediaries swarmed the deal seeking a cut.

Brighton’s willingness to hold their nose and wade through the sh*t past the shysters means Bissouma’s probable exit is nothing to fear.