Premier League • England

Brighton close in on Potter replacement, as respected source reveals ‘advanced’ talks with impressive candidate

Roberto De Zerbi managing Shakhtar Donetsk

Brighton and Hove Albion are close to appointing Roberto De Zerbi as their successor to Graham Potter in the managerial hotseat, according to reports in Italy.

Potter recently left his role with Brighton to progress his career with Chelsea, where he has replaced Thomas Tuchel. In turn, the Seagulls have been searching for a replacement in the Amex Stadium dugout.

There have been links with a number of potential candidates for the vacancy. With no fixture due until the start of October due to the upcoming international break, Brighton have been able to take their time in finding the right person for the job.

But they seem to be moving forward with the recruitment process. In fact, reports are now suggesting they are advancing talks with one of the leading candidates to replace Potter.

The name of Roberto De Zerbi has appeared on a few versions of Brighton’s shortlist for their next manager. The Italian tactician is currently out of work after leaving Shakhtar Donetsk.

Before that, he built up experience in his native country with Darfo Boario, Foggia, Palermo, Benevento and Sassuolo. He particularly impressed with the latter in Serie A.

Now, according to respected Sky Sport Italia reporter Gianluca Di Marzio, Brighton have reached an advanced stage of negotiations with De Zerbi.

Di Marzio has claimed that De Zerbi is ready to fly to England. Talks will continue in the coming hours, but the deal seems to be down to the details.

Indeed, the reporter has revealed that there is a positive feeling between all the parties, even if there are still some steps to take before a final agreement.

If all goes to plan, though, De Zerbi could end up taking his first ever Premier League job. He would also become the second Italian manager currently active in the Premier League, after Tottenham Hotspur’s Antonio Conte.

Roberto De Zerbi showing plenty of promise

De Zerbi, 43, has been coaching since November 2013, only a few months after his retirement from playing. While still on the other side of the touchline, he played for the likes of Napoli and Catania after coming through the AC Milan academy.

Most of his playing career was spent in the second and third divisions in Italy. His ceiling as a coach has proven to be higher, though. After his good work with Sassuolo in the top flight, he also did relatively well at the helm of a big club abroad like Shakhtar Donetsk. Indeed, he even got to lead the latter in the Champions League.

How his methods will adapt to the Premier League, only time will tell. But if Brighton are to confirm De Zerbi as their next head coach, they will be getting their hands on a promising tactician with an exciting philosophy.

Potter will be a tough act to follow after all he achieved on the South Coast. But perhaps someone like De Zerbi could provide Brighton with a breath of fresh air.

It is likely that whoever takes charge on a permanent basis will oversee their first match on October 1, when Albion are scheduled to visit Liverpool. It could be a baptism of fire for De Zerbi if he is to take the job.

But it will be interesting to see how they get on at the outset of any new regime.

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