Brighton & Hove Albion have appointed Italian manager Roberto De Zerbi following Graham Potter’s departure to Chelsea in early September. The 43-year-old signed a four-year contract with the Seagulls, who currently sit 4th in the Premier League. However, many English football fans won’t be familiar with De Zerbi, so let’s dive into who the new Brighton boss is.
De Zerbi was most recently manager of Shakhtar Donetsk of whom he took charge in May 2021. He enjoyed a successful campaign in Ukraine, becoming the first ever Italian manager to win the Ukrainian Premier League. De Zerbi’s stint at the helm of the club was unfortunately cut short due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, parting ways with the Ukrainian giants in July this year.
De Zerbi’s rise to prominence, however, came at his time in charge of Italian side Sassuolo. The Italian coach spent three years in charge of the Serie A club, leading them to back-to-back 8th place finishes. Under the former Napoli player’s tenure, Sassuolo gained a reputation for playing an attractive brand of football, punching far above their weight in terms of league finishes.
The Italian coach is well-known for his approach of wanting to improve players rather than just replacing them. De Zerbi opts to realize the player’s potential, making him an ideal managerial candidate for Brighton, who do not have the purchasing power of most Premier League clubs.
De Zerbi has played a key role in the development of some of the finest Italian talents currently out there such as Domenico Berardi, Gianluca Scamacca, Manuel Locatelli and Giacomo Raspadori.
The Seagulls also work on the model where they find bargains on the market and sell those same players for ginormous profts, such as with Ben White, Marc Cucurella and Yves Bissouma.
De Zerbi deploys a very possession-based style of football with plenty of short passes, allowing for quick movement of the ball.
His preferred setup is a back-four with a double pivot in front of the defence. De Zerbi likes to play with three attacking players behind the striker and in front of the pivot, with the number 10 often pushing further up field to support the front man.
All in all, De Zerbi looks like a sound Potter replacement who will be able to keep Brighton playing attractive football, as well as play an influential role in the development of players such as Tariq Lamptey, Billy Gilmour, Moises Caicedo and Levi Colwill.