What Roberto De Zerbi Will Bring to Brighton

Grace Crispin

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What Roberto De Zerbi Will Bring to Brighton

With the international break finally coming to an end, the Premier League returned with a new face in the Brighton dug-out. The Seagulls made an impressive start to the 2022/23 season with key wins over sides like Manchester United, Leicester, Leeds and West Ham, but their success attracted the eyes of Chelsea.

The shock sacking of Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea led to the London club looking south for their replacement and choosing Graham Potter as the German’s successor, leaving Brighton without a manager.

Under Tony Bloom, Brighton turned to Roberto De Zerbi, a somewhat unknown choice to the general public, but a choice highly backed by many professionals in Europe.

Though this decision seems to have paid off, based purely on the performance from The Seagulls against Liverpool. A tough first game for any manager, De Zerbi travelled to Anfield. Leandro Trossard scored an impressive hattrick and helped De Zerbi take home a 3 - 3 draw, and successfully impose himself on the Premier League.

De Zerbi Pre-Brighton

Before moving to the Premier League, De Zerbi was mostly known for his time in Ukraine with Shakhtar Donetsk and his time in Italy with Sassuolo.

De Zerbi spent three years in Italy with Sassuolo, where by all accounts, he overachieved massively. The Italian guided Sassuolo to back-to-back eighth place finishes in Serie A in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons. In fact, in the 2020/21 season, De Zerbi and Sassuolo cruelly only missed out on the Europa Conference League on goal difference, losing out to Roma.

In his whole Sassuolo career, De Zerbi took charge of 120 matches, winning 43, drawing 36 and losing 41, overall giving the Italian a 35.8% win rate.

De Zerbi’s time in Ukraine was significantly shorter, only a year, but also significantly more successful. Only four months after joining the club, De Zerbi led Shakhtar to victory in the Ukrainian Super Cup, becoming the first Italian manager to ever do so.

Though the Ukrainian Premier League 2021/22 season was unable to finish due to the invasion, Shakhtar remained at the top at the time.

De Zerbi took charge of 30 games for Shakhtar, winning 20, drawing five and losing five. This equates to a very impressive 66.7% win rate for the Ukrainian side.

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De Zerbi’s Play Style

Brighton fans can expect to see De Zerbi’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, a formation heavily used by the likes of Jose Mourinho after the turn of the century. However, De Zerbi, like many around him, associates his style of football with the iconic Marcelo Bielsa.

In line with how The Seagulls usually play, playing out from the back with a large focus on short but sharp passes between the back line and the two central midfielders.

This is done in order to invite the press of the other team and then create an overload, which therefore allows the wide and central attacking players to move through and attack the opposition defence.

Notable Players Under De Zerbi

In his time in Italy De Zerbi nurtured and developed a number of players who are now household names in European football.

Gianluca Scamacca is one of those names, with the young Italian making a £30.5 million move to the Premier League with West Ham. Though Scamacca didn’t play directly under De Zerbi for very long, the Italian manager did send him on a number of helpful loans to clubs such as Cremonese, PEC Zwolle and Ascoli. Overall, the Italian has seemed to settle in well at West Ham, with a Premier League goal for The Hammers already.

Alongside Scamacca, came Italian second striker Giacomo Raspadori, who has recently earned himself a move to Serie A giants Napoli at just 22 years of age, having been pushed through the ranks at Sassuolo by De Zerbi.

Another player famously developed by De Zerbi is current Juventus player Manuel Locatelli. The Italian player originally moved to Sassuolo in the summer of 2018, on a loan with an obligation to buy from AC Milan. In his first season, he scored three goals in 31 appearances under De Zerbi. Since his time under De Zerbi’s stewardship, Locatelli has gone on to win big things with Italy, namely the 2020 Euros, and earned himself a big loan deal to Juventus.

A final bookmark player for De Zerbi is Domenico Berardi, the only of these three to still be playing his football for Sassuolo. The Italian international has played for the club since 2015 and has scored 71 goals in 214 games, which then earned him his Italy call-up, where he has since made 24 appearances, scoring six times.

These player transitions under De Zerbi are one of the biggest positives for Brighton. In the summer of 2022, of the 15 players either brought in or brought back, 13 were under the age of 25. The likes of new signing Billy Gilmour from Chelsea and young right-back Tariq Lamptey could see a serious transition under the Italian.

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