We know Championship clubs really well. It’s probably our primary market for loans, as it is a really good test for our players. The Super Pitch just gives you direct access to clubs to act as a reminder of a player’s availability. It’s a different way of going into a discussion.
It’s been a busy summer at Brighton, with two new faces through the door and more than 10 players leaving England’s south coast, either permanently or on loan.
And TransferRoom has played a role, to varying degrees, in five of those exits over the past few months.
Double Dutch deals
Davy Propper (pictured) and Alireza Jahanbakhsh, two senior players in the Brighton first team squad, have both returned to the Netherlands in the close season.
Propper played over 100 matches for Brighton since joining in 2017, but injuries restricted him to just seven appearances in 2020-21 and he has now returned to PSV Eindhoven in his home country.
Talks had been ongoing for some time between all parties over Propper’s potential availability, and when his name appeared on Brighton’s agenda builder for the TransferRoom Virtual Summit in March 2021, the situation escalated.
David Weir, Pathway Development Manager at Brighton, told TransferRoom: “Davy is a senior player so it was not a case of aggressively marketing him. It was done below the radar. There were only so many clubs that would suit him as he had an involvement in terms of where he wanted to go.
“It was about contacting the right people in the right way and telling them that there was the possibility of something maybe happening over the next few months. It was not clear cut in terms of how a deal came about, because situations are constantly changing.
“So you have got to be flexible in terms of how you work, and that is why having the TransferRoom forum and the deal days are really useful. You can have lots of conversations and ‘what if’ scenarios. It’s a chance to discuss some things that may happen rather than will happen, and that can pay off further down the road.”
Jahanbakhsh’s 21 goals for AZ Alkmaar in the 2017-18 season were enough to secure him the golden boot and after a frustrating couple of seasons for the Iranian international in the Premier League, it was no surprise that a return to the Eredivisie came to fruition.
Feyenoord secured his signature on a three-year contract after registering interest in the 27-year-old on TransferRoom.
Weir explained: “Alireza was not necessarily available but lots of clubs had asked about him because he did not play as much as he would have liked. I’d say there were plenty of lucid conversations over a period of time.
“We were keen to review our squad and got a good offer that suits everyone. But it’s not as clear as just launching a player ad, the club comes to you and you do a deal. TransferRoom is part of the process, a valuable and very good part, but only a part nonetheless.”
Familiar friends and family ties
Centre-back Matt Clarke will spend a third successive year on loan in the Championship, this time with newly-relegated West Bromwich Albion, who will be among the favourites for a swift return to the top-flight.
The short-term switch came about after Brighton used one of their TransferRoom Super Pitches to promote the 24-year-old’s availability to 10 clubs.
“We know Championship clubs really well. It’s probably our primary market for loans, as it is a really good test for our players,” Weir noted. “The Super Pitch just gives you direct access to clubs to act as a reminder of a player’s availability. It’s a different way of going into a discussion.
“With the Super Pitches and the Plus Pitches it’s a case of using the tools available to us and being selective in terms of where we pitch and when we do it.”
One of the successful Plus Pitches occurred close to home for Weir, with his son Jensen moving on a season-long to Cambridge United, newly-promoted to the third-tier.
“For our first year loans, it is really helpful to pitch them and make clubs aware that they are going to be available. With a Plus Pitch, that’s 30 clubs, so it is going to cover a decent percentage of clubs that are relevant and applicable for a first loan.
“Of course, there’s always an element of risk involved for the club with a first year loan, but this was a good way of contacting the club and getting the deal done.”
Opening the door to new markets
Striker Jan Mlakar never made a first team appearance for Brighton since joining from Maribor in January 2019, but a successful loan spell last season at his former club - scoring 15 goals - led to heightened interest in him from across the Balkans region.
It was another Plus Pitch success for Brighton, leading to the 22-year-old joining Hajduk Split, and instant success for the Croatian club too, as Mlakar scored twice in the opening game of the new Croatian league season.
Weir said: “Jan did really well in Slovenia last year, which led to interest. Some of the clubs that we felt would be appealing and that he would be good for were harder to get in contact with without direct access, which we wouldn’t normally have.
“TransferRoom was really helpful in that regard in terms of opening up clubs we did not have good relationships with. The Plus Pitch really got the ball rolling. It was all relatively quick, and we got good interest.”
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