Brighton and Hove Albion’s first transfer window whilst being a Premier League outfit raised eyebrows in some sense about the club’s priorities. The issue is not with the players who have joined the squad, as every signing brings a high level of quality and adds to the squad’s depth. The issue lies with Brighton’s lack of attacking depth at the club. Whilst thr Seagulls are currently scoring enough goals to maintain their mid-table position, a clinical striker will need to be added to the squad to ensure Premier League survival.
Brighton’s Lack of Attacking Depth
Missing out in the Window?
The step up between the Premier League and the Championship is huge. Very few players have the capability of maintaining the same level of influence they previously had on games. Anthony Knockaert acts as a prime example.
Whilst he is showing glimpses, he does not impact on the game as he would have in the Championship. The task of improving a squad to be competitive in the Premier League is no easy assignment when taking into consideration the nature of the modern player market. Players such as Neymar, bought for a ludicrous amount of money, only widens the gap between the top-level teams and those recently promoted.
The ‘big six’ can spend as much as £100million on a few top-level players. A smaller team such as the Brighton have to improve their whole squad on a much smaller £30million budget.
Realistically, a significant amount of a promoted team’s transfer budget should be spent on a striker. Funding a clinical striker is crucial to Premier League survival, as seen recently through Burnley.
Burnley recognise the importance of making attacking signings through several acquisitions, including the likes of Andre Gray and Chris Wood. Whilst now at Watford, Andre Gray scored 32 goals and arrived for £6 million whilst a Burnley player. As well, Chris Wood signed this year from Leeds United for £15 million, already scoring three goals for the club. Similarly, Crystal Palace splashed £27million on Christian Benteke in 2016. Bournemouth recently pulled off a bargain signing England legend Jermain Defoe on a free. Evidentially, teams that make big attacking acquisitions survive the Premier League relegation battle.
Is Three Strikers Enough?
It is debatable as to whether Glenn Murray is currently scoring enough goals to ensure Premier League survival. The 34-year-old striker scored 23 goals last year and has started off this season with four goals, netting against Swansea in Brighton’s recent 1-0 victory.
Additionally, Israeli international Tomer Hemed is back from suspension and Sam Baldock recently represented the U21’s, making his return from a calf injury. All three strikers bring something different to the squad and can impact the games in a different way.
Arguably a starting 11 with Sam Baldock is far stronger than a starting 11 without Sam Baldock, simply down to his work rate. Hemed is debatably the perfect striker. He is; tall, fast, has a good first touch, great eye for goal and deadly in the air. His ability is widely recognised, notably by Reading who bided for the striker during the summer transfer window.
Glenn Murray was clinical during the 2016/17 campaign, netting more than 20 goals. However, whilst these players have set a high standard in the Championship, the Premier League is a larger step up. Although, it is important to note that none of these strikers has the quality to consistently influence games at the highest level.
Whilst Brighton released reports on several occasions suggesting that they were looking for a striker, there appears to be little evidence to back such a claim.
Tammy Abraham, the Chelsea youngster, was available for another loan following a successful previous season at Bristol City. He was loaned to Swansea. Jermain Defoe was available on a free following Sunderland’s relegation to the Championship. Defoe was signed by rivals Bournemouth.
It seems Brighton have had multiple opportunities to sign an adequate striker, yet the board’s influence on contract negotiations impacted the club’s chances of signing one. In recent years Brighton have missed out on crucial signings through the board’s contract policy, not necessarily through wages.
In terms of those signed, each player can offer the club something over the 2017/18 campaign. Through the centre, Propper and Gross look like extremely good acquisitions. Gross has had an influence on every goal Brighton have scored this season. Colombian born José Izquierdo has already made some significant impressions early on. However, without that clinical striker, Brighton are currently not fulfilling their full potential.
Given the current situation, it seems Murray and Hemed have enough to see Brighton through to the January transfer window. Naturally, the season increases in difficulty as teams begin to improve team cohesion and begin to meet their short term.
Crystal Palace, for example, will have the common goal of avoiding relegation given their poor start to the season. The task of securing the quality striker will become imperative in January. The board has made it clear on several occasions that they want to sign a striker.