Amid Liverpool and Chelsea links, Roberto De Zerbi casts doubt over his Brighton future

Amid Liverpool and Chelsea links, Roberto De Zerbi casts doubt over his Brighton future

Roberto De Zerbi has cast doubt over his future as Brighton manager, saying he needs assurances that his ‘plan’ and ‘vision’ align with the club before even considering a new contract.

The 44-year-old took over the reins from Graham Potter back in September 2022 and steered Brighton to European football for the first time in the club’s history with a sixth-placed finish last season.

The Seagulls have struggled to hit those heights this term, with the side sitting ninth in the table, though De Zerbi has coped admirably given three of his key players, Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister and Robert Sanchez, were sold for big money last summer.

De Zerbi’s success on the south coast is understood to have attracted the attention of some of Europe’s elite teams and recent reports claimed the Italian had been installed as one of Liverpool’s top targets to succeed Jurgen Klopp after Xabi Alonso confirmed he would be staying put at Bayer Leverkusen.

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Chelsea and Manchester United have also been credited with an interest in the former Shakhtar Donetsk head coach, with both Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag enduring disappointing campaigns at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford respectively this season.

This weekend, Liverpool have an opportunity to witness De Zerbi up close as they prepare to welcome Brighton to Merseyside for what promises to be an intriguing clash between two of English football’s most exciting teams.

Asked whether he could guarantee Brighton supporters that he would still be at the club next season, De Zerbi told reporters: ‘I have a different way to decide my future.

‘First of all, I want to speak with my club. I have a contract but the problem is not the contract – the problem is to find the same plan, the same target, the same vision for the future.

‘For me, I have not decided yet what is my future, because I have the contract, but anyway I want to speak with [owner] Tony [Bloom], with my club, to understand their plan, to understand his plan, the Tony plan. Then we take the decision together, without problems.

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‘My relationship with my players, my fans, I think it can’t change depending on the future. What we did is history and we can’t forget it.

‘In the future I want to keep my ambition, my motivation. I live for football 24 hours a day and I want to know what is the plan, what is the project, what is the future because if I don’t feel comfortable or I don’t feel the right motivation, I can’t stay any longer.’

De Zerbi, whose current deal expires in 2026, said he was yet to come close to an agreement with Brighton’s hierarchy over a possible extension.

Asked if he will sign a new contract at the Amex Stadium, De Zerbi responded: ‘At the moment, no.

‘We spoke but we didn’t find the agreement. But the contract is a part of the future.

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‘It’s important for them, it’s important for me, it’s important for everyone, but it’s a small part. The big part is the plan. We have to speak with the club. These are normal things in football.’

De Zerbi has plenty of admirers in his native Italy and Brighton assistant Andrea Maldera, speaking earlier this month, said his fellow countryman may struggle to turn down Napoli should the Serie A champions come calling in the future.

‘De Zerbi at Napoli? He is in love with Italy,’ Maldera told Radio Goal on Kiss Kiss Napoli.

‘It is his country, and Napoli is among his favourite teams.

‘We’re fine at Brighton. We have another two years on our contract, then if a proposal came from Italy, and also from Naples, Roberto would take it into consideration.

‘I don’t know, but why say no to a place like Naples?’

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