Graham Potter has made his second signing since being appointed manager of Brighton and Hove Albion.
Belgian winger Leandro Trossard (£6.0m in Fantasy Premier League) has joined the Seagulls for an undisclosed fee, penning a four-year contract.
Trossard heads to Albion from Genk, where he scored 14 goals and registered seven assists in 34 league outings for the Belgian side in 2018/19.
The 24-year-old midfielder, who plays primarily on the left flank, follows in the footsteps of Portsmouth centre-back Matthew Clarke (£4.5m) in making the move to Brighton.
Sporadic interest in Glenn Murray (£6.0m) and Pascal Gross (£6.5m) aside, we have generally been more focused on Brighton’s defenders from a Fantasy perspective in the Chris Hughton era.
The Seagulls have averaged less than a goal a game in each of their first two seasons as a Premier League club.
The appointment of the more forward-thinking Potter may change the defence-first mentality that was favoured by Hughton, as we discussed in our recent report on the former Swansea City manager.
Pre-season will certainly be an interesting watch, given that Brighton have one of the best opening run of fixtures in the first six Gameweeks of 2019/20.
Upon signing for the Seagulls, Trossard said of his conversations with Potter:
He told me that he wants to change the system a little bit to get more attractive football, like attacking, more my style.
I think that’s the most important thing for me, that I can fit in the team and help the team get results.
Trossard’s comments are a further indication that Potter will attempt to show a bit more ambition going forward next season.
The new Brighton boss added:
We are delighted to welcome Leandro to the club and excited about the impact he can have for us.
He’s an attack-minded player who had a very impressive season last year in helping Genk win the league title.
He was influential in the side’s success last term and scored a lot of goals, as well as creating chances for others.
At 24 he also brings good experience, having captained the side and also featured many times in the Europa League.
The History and Statistics
Born in the municipality of Maasmechelen in December 1994, Trossard joined Genk’s youth academy in 2010 and has been on the books of his boyhood club ever since – although has had four loan spells away from the club.
Trossard’s first taste of senior football came as a 17-year-old at the end of the 2011/12 campaign, a four-minute cameo against Gent in the Jupiler Pro League play-offs being his only run-out that season.
A loan spell at second-tier club Lommel United followed in 2012/13, with Trossard scoring seven goals in 12 run-outs.
Trossard scored on only three occasions in 17 league appearances for Westerlo the following campaign, before the young winger rejoined Lommel for a second time in 2014/15.
Trossard hit the back of the net on 16 occasions in 33 run-outs for the Proximus League club, also finding the target once in the end-of-season play-offs.
After three years in the Belgian second tier, Trossard’s breakthrough campaign in the Jupiler Pro League came in 2015/16 – although not with Genk.
Trossard’s fourth and final loan spell saw him join OH Leuven in the top flight, where he registered 15 attacking returns (eight goals, seven assists) in 30 appearances.
The past three seasons have seen Trossard establish himself in the first team at Genk, although injury affected his availability in 2017/18.
His league record (including play-offs) from 2016/17 onwards reads:
|Year||Apps (Starts + Sub)||Goals||Assists|
Trossard had his first taste of European football in 2016/17, scoring three goals as Genk made it to the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
The new Brighton signing and his club made it to the round of 32 in the same competition last season, with Trossard registering eight goals and three assists in 11 appearances on the continent.
Trossard was made the captain of Genk midway through last season, leading his club to their first league title since 2010/11.
A multi-million-pound signing of a goalscoring winger from Europe is treated with as much caution as it is excitement in the Fantasy community these days.
In our recent Scout Report of Moussa Djenepo we cited the cautionary tale of Mohamed Elyounoussi (£5.5m), who was snapped up by Southampton 12 months ago for a reported £16m.
Having registered 26 attacking returns in his final campaign with Basel, Elyounoussi finished his debut Premier League season without a single goal or assist to his name.
For Elyounoussi at Southampton, read Alireza Jahanbakhsh (£6.0m) at Brighton.
The Iranian winger banked 33 attacking returns in his farewell season at AZ Alkmaar, finishing as the Eredivisie top scorer with 21 goals.
Like Southampton’s misfiring Norwegian, Jahanbakhsh ended an admittedly injury-affected 2018/19 campaign without having recorded a single goal or assist in FPL.
The upside for Trossard is that he will be playing under a manager with a more positive mindset than Jahanbakhsh did last season, so attacking players may flourish in this new-look Brighton side.
Potter may even have plans to play both of these wingers in his seemingly favoured 4-2-3-1, although he is well-stocked with other options on the flanks in the form of Solly March (£5.0m), Anthony Knockaert (£5.5m), Jurgen Locadia (£5.5m) and the permanently crocked Jose Izquierdo (£5.5m).
Izquierdo, indeed, will miss the start of the 2019/20 season after having further knee surgery.
Given that Trossard played for a title-winning side in the Belgian top tier, it will be no surprise that he comes out of a direct comparison with his new teammates for underlying stats very positively:
|Player||Mins per shot||Mins per shot in box||Mins per shot on target||Mins per big chance||Mins per key pass||Mins per big chance created|
Apart from Gross’s superior rate of key passes and Murray’s lower average for big chances, Trossard comes out on top in all of the above categories.
Sergio Aguero (£12.0m) was the only first-team regular in the Premier League to have a better minutes-per-chance average than Trossard, meanwhile.
Trossard’s total of 126 shots was better than all other FPL midfielders bar Mohamed Salah (£12.5m), while the Egyptian and Sadio Mane (£11.5m) were the only players in the Belgian’s position to register more shots in the box (68).
Trossard was presented with 16 big chances, which would have seen him ranked joint-sixth among FPL midfielders.
A total of 72 key passes was inferior to only eight Fantasy midfielders, while 14 big chances created was bettered by just four players in this positional group.
Lucas Digne (£6.0m), Matt Ritchie (£5.5m) and Ryan Fraser (£7.5m) were the only Premier League players to deliver more crosses than Trossard in 2018/19 – all FPL assets, like the Belgian, who took free-kicks and corners for their respective sides.
The huge asterisk next to all of Trossard’s statistics is that these were numbers recorded in the Jupiler Pro League, not the English top flight.
Most of the winger’s averages will likely worsen significantly next season, such is the gulf in class between the two divisions.
The Belgian seems likely to challenge for a spot on the left flank, according to journalist David Van den Broeck, although could operate in ‘the hole’ if Potter opts for a 4-2-3-1.
In an interview with regional newspaper The Argus, den Broeck said:
Genk for the last five or six years have played 4-3-3. He has played as a left-winger all the time.
If you asked him his favourite position he would say number ten behind the striker as well, but that is a usual thing with wingers, they like to play in a central position, but he is better with space on the left.
He has a good left foot as well. Izquierdo, when he played in Belgium, was good but quite predictable because he was always coming inside onto his right foot.
Trossard can come inside, go outside, no problem. His shot is his main quality. When he is around 16 metres and he has got the opportunity to shoot he can put them nicely in the top corner with both feet.
He is a small guy who can turn easily around defenders with his quick acceleration.
We usually preach a “wait and see” policy with signings such as these and in Djenepo’s case, that would seem to be sensible given how tricky Southampton’s fixtures look (with a few exceptions) in the first 13 Gameweeks of the campaign.
Trossard and Brighton, though, are towards the top of our Season Ticker in the first six Gameweeks, with matches against West Ham, Southampton, Burnley, Newcastle and Watford to come in that period.
We’ll have a careful eye on the Seagulls in pre-season, then, to see if we have a potential mid-price gem on our hands or just another import to overlook for Gameweek 1.
With Gross being available for only £0.5m more and having already demonstrated his Fantasy potential in 2017/18, Trossard will have to dazzle in pre-season for many of us just to consider him the go-to Brighton option, never mind a player able to compete with the likes of Dwight McNeil, Roberto Pereyra and Miguel Almiron in the £6.0m bracket.
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