Roberto De Zerbi has given Mikel Arteta and Arsenal hope that a deal for Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister is not yet off the table but also indicated Brighton’s transfer reality.
The Seagulls have already secured European football for the first time in their history but are yet to confirm their Europa League status, though it would take quite the swing not to achieve the feat. With games against Manchester City and Aston Villa still to play, there is also the chance of a fifth-placed finish.
This has helped to offer their stars extra incentive to remain on the south coast past this season, De Zerbi explained, but was also not convinced that it would be enough. Both Mac Allister and Caicedo have been heavily linked with moves away this summer after attracting interest from across the league.
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Arsenal have shown their desire to sign both of them but are more focused on Caicedo as an option at the heart of their midfield having pursued the Ecuardian in January with several bids. Caicedo is also an option for Chelsea as well as Manchester United but only signed a new deal keeping him at the AMEX Stadium earlier in 2023.
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“It can be the last game but I don’t know,” De Zerbi admitted ahead of hosting Manchester City on Wednesday. With this being the final home match of the season it is being touted as a potential farewell outing for the pair, similar to the feeling of goodbye for Harry Kane and Declan Rice last weekend.
“They can have the possibility to change [clubs] because they deserve to play in another level,” he also said. Having won the World Cup in December Mac Allister is widely expected to join Liverpool due to an effective release clause in his contract. Caicedo, on the other hand, is valued at over £70m and would require a huge bid to lure him away.
“I don’t know what Tony [Bloom, Brighton owner] can decide,” the Italian boss continued. “But now we can offer them the possibility to play in Europe because our level is bigger now. We can offer them one possibility more.”
It is a big new offer that Brighton now have heading into next season and could be enough to convince their best players to remain another year. De Zerbi has already made his desire to manage Levi Colwill for longer very clear and Mac Allister and Caicedo are in the same camp.
As well as being a boost that their sales are not yet being ruled out, De Zerbi’s honest but coy response also demonstrates just how hard it will be to deal with Brighton this summer, especially after signing Ben White for £50m two years ago. The comments do reflect just how good the stars are, though, which is further confirmation to Arteta that Brighton’s best are ready for the big stage.
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