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It is remarkable how the Brighton conveyor belt keeps churning out top-drawer young talent. Having sold Marc Cucurella, Yves Bissouma, Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard this season, the vultures are already circling Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo.

Liverpool and Manchester City have been linked with Mac Allister while Arsenal are keen to capture Caicedo. “If we lose some players, for sure will arrive new big, big players,” Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi said.

“100 per cent. I believe in my club, I believe in Tony, I believe in the recruiting staff and I have no doubt we will build a stronger squad.”

Then he claims the process of polishing these diamonds – as De Zerbi likes to describe the process – is remarkably simple. “Young players need to play,” he said. 

“If you want to improve young players, you need to put them on the pitch. There is not another way to improve them and let them have the possibility to progress. You have to have patience and you have to wait.”

Nineteen-year-old Julio Enciso’s wonder-goal against Man City and a double from Evan Ferguson, 18, against Southampton on Sunday is testament to his success – although De Zerbi also likes to keep his young players on their toes.

“Julio is improving but he can play better than he did on Wednesday,” he said. “He can play better with the team and I would like him to play with more energy but his potential is big, big, big. He can become a great player, not a big player.

“Evan Ferguson can and he must improve. We are playing one type of football and he has to improve at keeping the ball and retaining possession and to be more continuous within the game.”

Meanwhile, De Zerbi has hailed Lewis Dunk’s call-up to the England squad as just as big a deal as Brighton qualifying for Europe. Now he wants to help goalkeeper Jason Steele to join him.

“It is great news,” the Italian said. “Maybe the same big news as qualifying for the Europa League.

“Because to help one of our players to achieve one target that is so important and so prestigious for us is a proud moment.

“And it is not just the coaches who have to be proud, it is the players. We will work next season to help Jason Steele to achieve the same target as Lewis Dunk because he has the quality to achieve such an important target.”

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