Roberto De Zerbi ‘happy’ at Brighton amid Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool links
Posted by  badge Boss on Mar 08
Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi has been linked with Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool (Picture: Getty)

Roberto De Zerbi insists he is ‘happy’ as manager of Brighton amid intense speculation linking him with the likes of , and Liverpool.

The sought-after 44-year-old, regarded as one of the top young managers in world football, led Brighton to Europe for the first time in the club’s history with a sixth-placed finish in the last season.

Taking over the reins from in September 2022, De Zerbi has received widespread praise for implementing an attractive style of play on a relatively modest budget compared to Brighton’s nearest rivals.

The Italian has also had to cope with many of his first-team stars leaving for high-profile clubs, with Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister and Robert Sanchez all departing – for a combined fee of around £160million – ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.

Unsurprisingly, De Zerbi’s success on the south coast has caught the attention of many of England’s high-profile clubs, with United, Chelsea and Liverpool all credited with a strong interest in the former Shakhtar Donetsk boss.

There has also been talk in De Zerbi’s homeland of a possible return to Italy, but the Brighton head coach was keen to play speculation over his future ahead of his side’s Europa League round of 16 tie with Roma.

Asked about a possible return to Serie A, De Zerbi told reporters: ‘It’s not true that I don’t think about it, but usually I do what I like.

The Seagulls face Roma in the first leg of an intriguing Europa League last-16 tie tonight (Picture: Getty)

‘I do what makes me happy and right now it is to be where I am.

‘I’m lucky now to be able to compete with these teams at this level to play these games.

‘It makes me happy when we win but also when we lose, I feel something special.’

The Italian steered Brighton to Europe for the first time in the club’s history last term (Picture: Getty)

De Zerbi vowed to return home at some stage in the future but said there were ‘some things’ he ‘didn’t like’ about Italian football when he left Sassuolo to take charge of Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer of 2021.

‘One day I will come back to Italy, I don’t know when this day will come,’ he added.

‘But it’s true that when I made this choice a couple of years ago to go to Shakhtar, I did it because I wanted to find a way outside Italy and, without going into too much detail, there were some things in Italy that I didn’t like so I decided to try something else.’

Barber is ‘confident’ Brighton can keep hold of De Zerbi for the forseeable future

Brighton are realistic that they will not be able to stand in De Zerbi’s way should he make it clear he wants to leave at the end of the season.

However, the Seagulls’ CEO, Paul Barber, is ‘confident’ the club can convince their manager to stay put for the foreseeable future.

‘We don’t want to lose him, he is an outstanding coach, probably one of the best in the world already, and that is going to make him attractive,’ Barber told  this week.

De Zerbi’s Brighton sit ninth in the Premier League table (Picture: Getty)

‘But I think Roberto loves Brighton, he loves the club, the people, the infrastructure that we have.

‘And there is this sense that the work he is doing is good for him as well as for us.

‘But that still means at some point in the future he may choose to take that skill base that he has elsewhere – we understand that.’

De Zerbi has been identified as a possible replacement for Klopp (Picture: Getty)

Barber added: ‘We are aware of that and I have said for years now, the better we do, the higher profile our people become on and off the field, and ironically the more vulnerable we become to losing them.

‘But we know that and we are not stupid. We understand it, but we are confident in our ability to keep people. The contracts are good, the mechanisms to secure the contracts are good.

‘If people are poached they don’t go quickly, or cheaply in some cases, and we always look to a plan that we have in place for that eventuality.’

De Zerbi put pen to paper on a four-year deal with Brighton when he succeeded Potter in the hot seat 18 months ago.

It’s understood the Brescia-born manager has a £12m release clause in his contract at the Amex Stadium.

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