Brighton set to announce 31-year-old Fabian Hürzeler as new head coach

<span>Fabian Hürzeler, pictured celebrating St Pauli’s promotion, has a data-driven management style and has drawn comparisons to Julian Nagelsmann.</span><span>Photograph: Dpa Picture Alliance/Alamy</span>
Fabian Hürzeler, pictured celebrating St Pauli’s promotion, has a data-driven management style and has drawn comparisons to Julian Nagelsmann.Photograph: Dpa Picture Alliance/Alamy

Brighton expect to announce this week the appointment of Fabian ­Hürzeler as their head coach, with the 31-year-old who led St Pauli to pro­motion last month poised to become the youngest permanent manager in the Premier League era.

The German, who has been compared to Julian Nagelsmann and is known for his data-driven approach, is understood to have agreed terms to replace ­Roberto De Zerbi after Brighton identified him as their preferred choice. They have secured a work permit in anticipation of confirming that Hürzeler will take over.

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Compensation has yet to be agreed with St Pauli but almost resolved, according to sources close to the deal. Brighton’s owner, Tony Bloom, and the technical director, David Weir, are said to have been impressed by Hürzeler’s ­achievement of returning the Hamburg club to the Bundesliga for the first time since 2011.

Brighton had considered reappointing Graham Potter and held exploratory talks with their former manager after being turned down by their first choice, Kieran McKenna, who opted to stay at Ipswich.

With Bloom keen to head in a new direction and Potter being courted by Leicester, Hürzeler is now poised to succeed Chris Coleman as the youngest manager in Premier League history.

The former Wales coach was 32 when he took charge at ­Fulham in 2003 after a spell as interim mana­ger. ­Hürzeler turned 31 at the end of ­February and will be younger than several members of Brighton’s squad, including the 38-year-old James Milner.

Hürzeler, born in Houston, Texas, to a Swiss father and German mother while they were working in the US, played for Bayern Munich’s ­academy and in Germany’s lower leagues before becoming player-manager for fourth-tier Pipinsried.

He rose to prominence as an assistant for Germany’s under‑18 and under‑20 teams before being appointed as an assistant coach at St Pauli under Timo Schultz.

Hürzeler became head coach in December 2022 at 29 and transformed a team threatened with relegation, recording 10 successive wins before leading St Pauli to promotion ­utilising an attacking 3-4-3 formation. His success at such a young age has led to comparisons to Nagelsmann, the Germany manager, who holds the record as the youngest manager in Bundesliga history at 28.

“Of course, I always hear those comparisons with Julian Nagelsmann but like I said: ‘I must stay humble and walk my own way,’” Hürzeler has said. “I can’t do it the same way because that is the Julian Nagelsmann way, and I try to go the Fabian Hürzeler way.”