Roberto De Zerbi’s damning verdict on ‘important’ player sees Chelsea, Newcastle scrambling for winter capture

Leandro Trossard and Moises Caicedo Credit: Alamy
Leandro Trossard and Moises Caicedo Credit: Alamy

Chelsea and Newcastle have been put on high alert after Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi hinted Leandro Trossard will not play for him unless he ups his game.

The 28-year-old has been with the Seagulls since the summer of 2019 when Brighton paid Genk in the region of €16m for his signature. The Belgium interantional has generally been superb for the Amex Stadium outfit, making 122 appearances in all competitions. He has bagged 25 goals and been part of a Brighton side that has established itself in the Premier League.

Having scored eight top-flight goals last term, the former OH Leuven loan star looked on course to smash that total in 2022-2023.

He had already notched seven before the World Cup break. And a few clubs have taken notice of his prowess in front of goal.

Both Newcastle United and Chelsea have been linked with a move for the man with 24 Belgium caps.

He played a part in all three of Belgium’s World Cup games as they failed to advance past the group stage in Qatar.

However, Trossard has struggled since returning to the south coast after the resumption of domestic action.

But he remains on the radar of the top-flight duo, according to recent reports.

De Zerbi takes aim at Trossard

De Zerbi seemed to question his commitment to the cause in an interview with The Athletic.

But, asked whether speculation over the forward’s future had affected his displays, the Italian tactician played his cards closer to his chest.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “I think he’s one of the best players for us and one of the most important players for us.

“I’d like to always play with Leo in the first XI, but it doesn’t depend only on me, it depends on Leo.

“I don’t know, but with me I want players that work for the team on the pitch. And Leandro knows very well my opinion, my idea. I’ve spoken a lot of times with him.”

Chelsea link obvious with Potter connection

Chelsea have already paid Brighton a whopping £55m for Marc Cucurella. That was before Graham Potter arrived at Stamford Bridge.

And it seems as though the west Londoners might be set to boost the Seagulls’ coffers even more.

Brighton did not pay Genk too much for the attacker and would make a tidy profit if a deal was completed this winter.

Trossard has already admitted his willingness to follow Potter to Chelsea.

And De Zerbi’s latest comments will only add fuel to the rumours that his days at Albion may be numbered.

“I like him as a player, but I want more from him, because he can play better, he can work harder and he can run more on the pitch. And I want players who give 100 per cent in every training session and every game,” he added.

“Without these characteristics, then they can’t play with me.”

Trossard played no part as Brighton booked their spot in the FA Cup fourth round by beating Middlesbrough 5-1.

Things will get a lot tougher next time out, however, as they entertain Liverpool next Saturday.

READ MORE: Graham Potter urged to get rid of ‘finished’ Chelsea man as astonishing fall from grace predicted

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