De Zerbi offers Arsenal encouragement in Caicedo chase
Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Roberto De Zerbi believes the club are “ready to go forward without” Moises Caicedo following interest from Arsenal.
Caicedo has been strongly linked with a move away from the Amex Stadium all month, but reports of interest intensified this week.
Arsenal were rumoured to have had a bid worth £60million rejected by Brighton, which seemed to prompt Caicedo to publicly declare his desire to leave.
In a statement posted to social media on Friday, the Ecuador international spoke of wanting to make the most of a “magnificent opportunity”.
While he did not specifically name Arsenal, the Gunners – who signed Leandro Trossard from the Seagulls in this window – are said to have since upped their offer to roughly £70m.
Brighton have told Caicedo to stay away from the first team while his future is unresolved, hence his absence from Sunday’s 2-1 FA Cup win over Liverpool, but De Zerbi is apparently content for a sale to go through.
“Caicedo is a very, very good guy,” the told reporters after the game. “I can understand because when you are 21 and you have a request from a big team, they are playing in Europe.
“I would like him to finish the season with us, but we are ready to go forward without him – I think we need some players in some positions.
“I spoke a lot with [Brighton chairman] Tony [Bloom], he knows very well my opinion. We are a good team, but we can improve from the transfer window.
“We lost [Leandro] Trossard and if we also lose Caicedo, it can be a problem for us if we want to fight for Europe.”
Caicedo’s statement of intent to leave caught fans by surprise, and De Zerbi earlier described it as a “mistake”.
But the Brighton coach also sympathised with the 21-year-old, convinced those advising him were behind it rather than Caicedo unilaterally deciding to publish the comments.
“I was surprised, but I can understand where the mistake started,” De Zerbi added.
“I don’t know if you understand, but Moises is a good guy. I think [he was influenced by someone else].”
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