In Focus: Trossard soaring for Potter's Seagulls
Leandro Trossard has been one of the stars of Brighton's impressive start to the 2021-22 campaign.
Always highly rated, Trossard is now showing the sort of consistency that will take his game to the next level.
Following his equaliser at Anfield on Saturday, we look at the Belgian international's season so far.
The big moments
Trossard's strike against Liverpool was the latest big contribution from the Belgian this season.
He showed great composure to round Liverpool defenders and slot the ball under Alisson in the Reds’ goal.
But it was not as impressive as the effort from the edge of the area in the last minute at Brentford, which saw the Seagulls pick up a 1-0 win in September.
Trossard notched five goals in 35 appearances for Brighton last year and already has two in 10 this year.
After being challenged to step up in the summer, Trossard is doing just that.
Manager Graham Potter recently said: "His highest levels are incredibly high.
"It’s not easy of course to replicate that highest level all the time but it’s about helping him be consistent, helping how he can affect the game when he is not really at his absolute maximum and waiting for the time when he is at his maximum and then he can affect things really considerably.
"And, as I’ve said before, the longer he is here, the longer he is with us, the more we understand him, the more he understands us, the better are the chances he is going to improve — which is what he has done."
Through the middle
And it is a tactical tweak from his boss that has helped Trossard reach his best levels consistently.
The 26-year-old was used mainly as a winger during his first two years at Brighton.
But Potter has moved him into a more central role this campaign and both player and club are reaping the benefits.
In the main, he has played behind Neal Maupay and helped bring the best out of the French striker.
At Anfield he was deployed as a false nine. And it was a role he played to perfection, helping drag Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate out of position and allowing other players to exploit the space behind.
Potter added: "He likes the responsibility of the position he is playing. He prefers being central. I think that suits him better.
"He can go both ways. He can affect the goal. He’s closer to goal.
"All the time we are just working on him."
Trossard’s growing influence in the Brighton team is showcased by the stats.
He is having more touches, shots and efforts on target compared to the 2020-21 campaign.
Despite playing through the middle, he is now successfully taking on more players and playing a lot more passes.
Last season he did the majority of his defensive work in the middle third, winning the ball back 2.71 times per 90 minutes compared to 1.56 now.
This year, the majority of his pressing is being done in the opposition's defensive third, winning the ball back 1.14 per 90 compared to 0.96 previously.
His efforts are being noticed by those close to him and from afar.
Seagulls striker Danny Welbeck has played with some of the best in the world at Manchester United and Arsenal.
But he knows just how valuable Trossard’s contributions are for the South Coast outfit currently.
Speaking after the Leicester victory, when he notched his only assist of the season so far, Welbeck said: "Leandro [Trossard] has been decisive for us in certain moments.
"Last week he got the matchwinner [against Brentford] and [against Leicester] he has got the assist. We know he can cause problems for every team we come up against."
The challenge for Trossard now is to keep performing at the highest level.
He has been one of the Seagulls’ best players in a stunning start and if he continues in this manner, there will be interest in his services come the end of the season.
He will once again join up with the Belgium squad for their World Cup qualifying games next week and Potter feels that only helps his man.
He added: "We have been really happy with Leo. These guys are competing at the highest level — international level.
"I think he has taken that step to be involved there as well. I think that has probably helped him."