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Brighton steal a march on Premier League big spenders with Alireza Jahanbakhsh signing

Saturday 4th August 2018

Clubs throughout the Premier League throw tens of millions of pounds at multiple players. Manchester City spent an estimated £60 million on Riyad Mahrez, who probably won't start regularly. Liverpool exceeded that purchase by £7 million to secure a starting goalkeeper. Alisson Becker is excellent but he is still only a keeper.  Brighton & Hove Albion may have outdone them both while only splashing a quarter of the amount the Reds put out. The Seagulls have signed former AZ Alkmaar star, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, for a club record £17 million. He is not a household name he should prove a very astute signing for the South Coast club. Underrated playmaker Pascal Gross now has a target who can finish.

Jahanbakhsh began his career in his native Iran with Damash Gilan and their lower league affiliate, Damash Tehran. He moved to Europe in 2013, signing for NEC as a 19-year-old. He helped NEC win the Dutch Eerste Divisie, as the KNVB second tier's Player of the Year. In 2015, he signed with AZ. 

In his time with the Cheeseheads, Jahanbakhsh became more productive every season, going from three goals and five assists to 11 and 8 before hitting the heights in his final Dutch campaign with 21 and 12. As such, he is the first Asian to be top scorer in a major European league. 

At international level, he has won 41 caps for Iran. He played in all three World Cup games this summer. You didn't notice him because Carlos Queiroz's negative tactics smothered him. Jahanbakhsh is yet to win a major trophy with Iran but was a key member of their U19 Asian champions side in 2012. 

Brighton comfortably avoided relegation with a 15th-place finish. The next step is to consolidate their status as a Premier League club. Signings like Jahanbakhsh are a fine way to go about it. The Iranian should fit into Chris Hughton's squad. His eye for goal will command respect from opponents. 

Dusan Tadic is a similar player who has had success in England. The former Southampton midfielder arrived from Twente Enschede with a similar scoring record, 16 goals and 14 assists. Tadic developed into an attacking midfielder with the Saints but began as a winger. Jahanbakhsh will slot in either at right wing or behind the striker as a number ten. He replicates several Tadic attributes. Both players carry the ball with ease and make decisive passes in the attacking third. 

Brighton are an excellent club, considering their resources. They deserve every bit of success that comes their way. Not so long ago they were on the brink of relegation from the Football League. Instead, they have invested in their facilities, leading to other improvements on and off the pitch. In Chris Hughton, they have a tenacious coach. Additions like Jahanbakhsh only make him more dangerous. Playmaker Pascal Gross picked up seven goals and eight assists last season with little support. Expect him to foster a fruitful partnership with the Iranian.

After surviving their first Premier League campaign while claiming an impressive scalp or two, including Manchester United's, the pieces are falling into place to build on that success. Brighton is a team looking forward with confidence. 

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Gerry Johnston

I am a 33-year-old sports writer from Ireland who enjoys watching European football. My main focus is La Liga, but I do keep a close eye on all of the major leagues throughout the world.


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