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De Zerbi must find balance to earn seat among Europe's elite
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Mitchell Fretton
Roberto De Zerbi is renowned for his high risk playing style
Roberto De Zerbi is renowned for his high risk playing style

Brighton have exceeded expectations under Roberto De Zerbi and the Italian is beginning to draw interest from some of Europe's top clubs.

Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barcelona are all reportedly monitoring the 44-year-old as they look to fill their vacant managerial positions in the summer — but appointing him could be too risky as it stands.

Ahead of the Seagulls' Europa League clash with Roma, we assess whether De Zerbi is ready to make the step up.

Brighton's best

The past two seasons have seen Brighton make history by qualifying for the Europa League for the first time — and making the knockout stages.

But De Zerbi looks to have hit a ceiling with the players at his disposal on the South Coast as they find themselves 4-0 down against Roma in the last 16.

Additionally, Brighton are struggling to replicate their best-ever Premier League finish of fifth in 2022-23, which could be put down to the extra workload and their style of play.

De Zerbi is committed to a high-intensity, attacking brand of football and while the club initially reaped the rewards, fatigue and defensive frailties are beginning to show.

It remains to be seen whether the former Shakhtar Donetsk boss would be able to up the standards with a bigger and better squad — but those interested in recruiting him will be aware of Brighton's recent struggles.

Stuck in his ways

Brighton have kept only four clean sheets in their last 32 Premier League matches but have made up for it by scoring 50 goals — the seventh-highest tally in the English top flight.

The attack first, defend later philosophy that De Zerbi adores is not likely to change regardless of the environment and he recently admitted the Seagulls are unable to maintain his levels across multiple competitions.

Brighton have been a good watch under Roberto De Zerbi
Brighton have been a good watch under Roberto De Zerbi

He said: "It's different playing one game per week and three games per week, a different sport.

"I repeated that a lot of times in press conferences earlier in the season and maybe we have not been ready, we have not organised everything in the best way.

"It's a real pain for me, but we have to accept it, to learn in terms of deciding if we want to compete at a high level or not and play one game per week, Wednesday playing golf."

De Zerbi clearly has aspirations of managing at the summit but the very best teams play with balance, which has been in short supply at Brighton of late.

Pressure position

A seat at the top table in management comes with almost overwhelming pressure, something De Zerbi has not yet had to deal with.

Compared to the clubs sniffing at his feet, Brighton's expectations are tempered and the sought-after head coach does not need silverware to be regarded as a success.

But if he were to move to one of the three interested parties, winning trophies will become a requirement.

Due to such high standards, patience wears thinner and as someone who is yet to win a league title, De Zerbi will be up against it if he is offered the biggest move of his career.

He is certainly capable but remains unproven as an elite coach — and would therefore represent a risky move.


Brighton & Hove AlbionEuropa League
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