Kaoru Mitoma’s superb solo effort and Solly March’s second-half double helped lift Brighton top of the Premier League table after an impressive 4-1 win at Wolves.

Japan midfielder Mitoma’s mesmeric run and finish gave Brighton a slender half-time lead before Roberto De Zerbi’s side put Wolves to the sword with three goals in nine minutes at the start of the second half.

Pervis Estupinan doubled Brighton’s lead within 60 seconds of the restart and two carbon-copy goals from March, both assisted by teenage forward Julio Enciso, sealed the Seagulls’ second-straight win.

Wolves responded through substitute Hwang Hee-chan’s header just after the hour mark, but it was mere consolation for Gary O’Neil’s side, who were emphatically punished for missed first-half chances and lost Matheus Nunes to a late red card.

Mitoma gave Brighton a 15th-minute lead with a brilliant effort, cutting inside 40 yards from goal and beating three Wolves defenders before sliding the ball beyond goalkeeper Jose Sa.

Brighton deserved their lead, but Wolves spent the rest of an end-to-end first half chasing an equaliser.

Fabio Silva was brilliantly denied by Brighton goalkeeper Jason Steele’s out-stretched boot in the 28th minute after the Portuguese forward had ghosted on to Joao Gomes’ deft through-ball.

The home side went close again when Nunes curled a shot off-target following impressive Brazilian Matheus Cunha’s powerful run and Pedro Neto flashed an angled drive just wide.

Brighton continued to threaten on the counter – Mitoma and Paraguayan Enciso were a constant menace – but Wolves passed up another chance just before the break.

Rayan Ait-Nouri found himself clear in front of goal after exchanging passes with Silva, but the Algeria defender blazed over shortly before half-time.

Wolves were made to pay inside 60 seconds of the restart as Brighton extended their lead and then put the game to bed with two more strikes, all within the space of nine minutes.

Estupinan tucked home the visitors’ second, stepping on to Mitoma’s cut-back after Danny Welbeck’s fierce drive had been parried by Sa.

March then slammed home his first as he charged on to Enciso’s lovely weighted ball inside the penalty area to make it 3-0 in the 51st minute and that became 4-0, just four minutes later.

Enciso this time found himself free on the opposite edge of the area and his ball in was turned home again by March to leave Molineux stunned.

Wolves responded just after the hour-mark as Hwang headed home fellow substitute Pablo Sarabia’s corner and they drove gamely forward in a bid to mitigate the damage.

Efforts from Sarabia and Pedro Neto were held by Steele and rebounded off Evan Ferguson respectively, while March was twice denied his hat-trick with goal-bound shots blocked by Toti Gomes and Steele.

Wolves’ misery was complete in stoppage-time when Nunes was sent off for his second yellow card after pushing Estupinan to the ground.

Chelsea's new recruits are perfectly suited to playing under Mauricio Pochettino, according to Gus Poyet, who believes the Blues could surprise their Premier League rivals this season.

Chelsea have continued to invest heavily ahead of their second full season under the Todd Boehly regime, spending an estimated £328million on Moises Caicedo, Christopher Nkunku, Nicolas Jackson and others during the current transfer window.

Former Brighton and Hove Albion star Caicedo became the most expensive player in Premier League history when he joined the Blues in a £115m deal this week, with fellow midfielder Romeo Lavia also arriving from Southampton for £58m.

While Chelsea's costly recruitment policy has attracted plenty of criticism, former Blues favourite Poyet feels they have acquired players likely to excel under Pochettino.

"Obviously they have a new coach. They have too many new players," Poyet told Stats Perform. 

"They're very young and normally the young players have that stamina, they are going to run and create, but then you have that dip in form.

"The thing that I am the most pleased about, thinking about the coach, is they are made for Pochettino. 

"Young players that need to be built, that need to be coached, that need to feel part of a group and have togetherness… things that Pochettino does tremendously well. 

"A few weeks ago, I was worried. Now I've got a feeling that maybe they can be the surprise. I'm not saying they can win the title, but the surprise in terms of how they're going to develop."

Chelsea produced a positive display in their season opener last Sunday, enjoying 64.9 per cent of the possession and creating five big chances in an entertaining 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

Conor Gallagher partnered Enzo Fernandez in the heart of Chelsea's midfield for that game, but Poyet believes Caicedo's arrival can take the Blues to a different level.

"I think was quite a good call from Pochettino to play Fernandez a little bit further forward," he said. "For that, you need a proper sitting number six, which Gallagher did the other day. 

"I think Gallagher did tremendously, he made two or three unbelievable tackles to recover the ball in difficult circumstances, but they're looking for that athletic South American that can cover the pitch and be good on the ball. 

"[Caicedo] learned a lot with Roberto De Zerbi about positioning and passing, so I think they have an incredible group of players that just need to gel or to find the right system."

Poyet – who coached Brighton between 2009 and 2013 – also believes the transfer represents a remarkable piece of business for the Seagulls, adding: "I want to talk about Brighton, who are outstanding with their recruitment system.

"To have players from everywhere in the world and sell them for the amount of money they are selling them for is tremendous."

Moises Caicedo’s £100m move from Brighton continues Chelsea’s lavish spending under Todd Boehly’s ownership group and represents another major profit for the Seagulls.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the two clubs’ contrasting approaches in the transfer market.

Boehly breaks the bank

Chelsea became used to unprecedented transfer outlay under former chairman Roman Abramovich but if anything, Boehly and Behdad Eghbali’s Clearlake consortium have taken it to new levels.

Raheem Sterling was the first signing of the new era for a reported £47.5million last summer, with defenders Wesley Fofana (£70m), Marc Cucurella (£60m) and Kalidou Koulibaly (£34m) the other stand-out deals in a window that saw them spend over £250m in all.

A British record £106.8m deal for Enzo Fernandez and an initial £62m, potentially rising to as much as £89m, for Ukraine winger Mykhailo Mudryk followed in January. The Premier League’s spending of £815m that month was almost double the previous January record of £430m, while Chelsea’s £308m alone would have ranked second on that chart and was more than the rest of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues combined.

That £650m-plus season expenditure – plus pay-offs to sacked managers Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter, and a reported £20m to Brighton to lure Potter in the first place – could not help Chelsea to success as they limped to a 12th-placed finish in the league, their worst finish since 1994.

The solution, unsurprisingly, has been to spend another £290m and counting this summer on the likes of forwards Christopher Nkunku and Nicolas Jackson, defender Axel Disasi – whose debut goal earned a draw with Liverpool on Sunday – and now Caicedo.

With a reported ongoing interest in Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia and an admitted need for another striker following Nkunku’s injury, Boehly’s Blues could be on course for an even larger outlay in this window and potentially even a total outlay topping £1billion within 15 months of their takeover.

Brighton bring in big bucks

Caicedo is the latest off-the-radar discovery to make a huge profit for Brighton, having signed from Independiente del Valle in his native Ecuador for a reported £4.4m as recently as February 2021.

Now seemingly worth up to 26 times that amount if the £15m in potential add-ons in his deal are all activated, the midfielder continues an impressive trend.

In the last three seasons, Albion have sold 10 first-team players who made at least 20 league appearances in the previous campaign and have made a profit on all but two.

The summer 2021 window saw homegrown defender Ben White move to Arsenal for a reported £50m and Dan Burn to his hometown club Newcastle for £13m, a near-£10m profit for the Seagulls.

Alireza Jahanbaksh’s move to Fenerbahce that summer represents Brighton’s only significant loss on a first-team player in that timeframe, the Iran winger leaving for less than £1m having signed for a then club-record fee of almost £17m in 2018.

Neal Maupay, signed for just over £14m from Brentford and sold to Everton last summer for £10m, is the only other player to lose Brighton money in the market but it was offset by selling Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella, both signed for in the region of £15m, for £25m and £60m to Tottenham and Chelsea respectively.

A £7m profit on Leandro Trossard followed with his January move to Arsenal before this summer saw £7m signing Alexis Mac Allister and academy product Robert Sanchez sold for, respectively, an initial £35m to Liverpool and £20m to Chelsea. Caicedo’s move makes it a combined profit of around £245m on the 10 players.

Moises Caicedo has joined Chelsea from Brighton in a deal worth a possible £115million.

The Blues look set to eclipse their own British transfer record having agreed to pay £100m up front for Caicedo, plus a further £15m in potential add-ons.

Here, the PA news agency compares the transfer with previous big-money signings.

Highest transfer fees paid by British clubs

The Caicedo deal is the fourth nine-figure transfer in Premier League history.

The record remains at £106.8m – the amount that Chelsea paid Benfica for Enzo Fernandez in January – but Caicedo’s move could eventually surpass it should he meet add-on criteria totalling £15m.

The Fernandez fee appears to have set a new precedent for central midfielders, with Declan Rice also having moved from West Ham to Arsenal for £100m plus add-ons earlier this summer.

Manchester City’s Jack Grealish was the first Premier League player to break the £100m barrier, with the former Aston Villa captain having signed for Pep Guardiola’s side in 2021.

Most expensive under-21s

Caicedo is the third player aged 21 and under to command an initial fee of £100m or more.

The Ecuadorian follows in the footsteps of Kylian Mbappe and Joao Felix, who moved to Paris St Germain and Atletico Madrid for £165.7m and £113m respectively.

Mbappe was 19 when PSG secured his permanent transfer from Monaco in 2018, while Felix was the same age upon moving from Benfica to Atletico 12 months later.

Meanwhile, Jude Bellingham’s £88.5m switch from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid continued the German club’s impressive record of signing young players and selling them for a large profit.

Ousmane Dembele – who joined Barcelona from Dortmund as a 20-year-old in 2017 – also ranks in the five most expensive players aged 21 and under (£96.8m).

Highest fees received by British clubs

Brighton are the fifth British club to receive a nine-figure sum for an individual player.

The Seagulls are fast proving themselves as adept as Dortmund when it comes to developing young talent, with Caicedo having joined for an estimated £4.4m from Ecuadorian club Independiente del Valle in 2021.

His sale is the third this summer to breach the £100m mark, after Tottenham and West Ham cashed in on their club captains Harry Kane and Rice respectively.

Liverpool – who Caicedo turned down in favour of Chelsea – have held on to top spot in terms of most expensive sales in Premier League history.

The Reds sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for an initial £105m in January 2018, with a further £37m received in subsequent add-ons.

Chelsea have agreed a deal worth a possible £115million to sign Moises Caicedo from Brighton, the PA news agency understands.

Brighton will receive £100m up front with a further £15m in add-ons as the long-running transfer saga appears finally to be coming to an end.

The deal is set to see Mauricio Pochettino’s side beat Liverpool, with whom they drew 1-1 on Sunday in their Premier League opener, to the signing of the 21-year-old Ecuador midfielder.

Rob Edwards admits Luton must quickly improve after their Premier League debut ended in a thumping 4-1 defeat at Brighton.

Just nine years on from being a non-league side, the newly-promoted Hatters were taught a punishing lesson on their first return to top-flight action since relegation from the old First Division in 1992.

Carlton Morris’ 81st-minute penalty gave Town hope of snatching something at the Amex Stadium after Joao Pedro’s spot-kick added to Solly March’s first-half header.

But, despite some encouraging signs, they were second best on the south coast and ultimately suffered a resounding loss following late finishes from Seagulls substitutes Simon Adingra and Evan Ferguson.

“We have to do it our way,” said manager Edwards. “We have got a plan, we’ve had that over the last decade or so and had a lot of success.

“We’re now going into what’s probably going to be the biggest challenge the club’s had. We know the scale of the challenge. We’re going to have some tough days.

“I don’t want anyone to be happy about losing football matches – we’re certainly not.

“I was pleased with stuff I saw today. I know we’re going to get better. But we’ve got to get better quickly.”

March nodded the hosts ahead nine minutes before the break before Brighton’s £30million record signing Pedro slotted home from 12 yards, having been brought down by Luton captain Tom Lockyer.

Morris’ successful spot-kick, after Jacob Brown’s cross struck the elbow of Lewis Dunk, looked to have set up a tense finale.

But an inexplicable error from Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu allowed Albion debutant Adingra to swiftly restore the hosts’ two-goal advantage before fellow substitute Ferguson added another deep into stoppage time.

Edwards, who felt both penalty decisions were “harsh”, was left to rue his side’s mistakes.

“I thought we were right in the game at 1-0 and at 2-1 but we shot ourselves in the foot,” he said.

“We made a couple of clear errors in the build up to the third goal and we got punished and at this level you do get punished.

“It shows the ruthless nature of the league.”

Brighton set aside Moises Caicedo’s ongoing transfer saga to launch their first campaign to feature European football in commanding fashion.

Build up to the contest was dominated by news of Albion accepting a British record transfer fee of around £111million from Liverpool for the absent Ecuador midfielder amid reports he would prefer to join Chelsea.

Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi, who handed debuts to James Milner and Mahmoud Dahoud, in addition to goalscorers Pedro and Adingra, also lost Alexis Mac Allister to Liverpool during the summer, while Levi Colwill returned to parent club Chelsea.

The Italian warned it will take his team time to hit the heights of last season, which brought a club-record sixth-placed finish, and does not view Dahoud as a direct replacement for Caicedo.

“Dahoud is a great player for us because he’s specific for our idea of football, for our style of play,” he said.

“But we lost different characteristics because Dahoud is different from Moises Caicedo.

“We played well, not one of the best games in my time, but we need much time to reach the same level, the same quality of play of last season.

“We won a very tough game. I’m really pleased.”

Joao Pedro and Simon Adingra claimed debut goals as Brighton set aside Moises Caicedo’s ongoing transfer saga to thrash Premier League debutants Luton 4-1.

Club record signing Pedro doubled Albion’s lead following Solly March’s first-half opener by converting a 71st-minute penalty after being brought down by Hatters captain Tom Lockyer.

Carlton Morris slotted home from the spot at the other end following Lewis Dunk’s handball to set up a tense finale but Adingra capitalised on a dreadful error from Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu before fellow substitute Evan Ferguson sealed the Seagulls’ emphatic victory.

Build up to the contest was dominated by news of Albion accepting a British record transfer fee of around £111million from Liverpool for star midfielder Caicedo amid reports he would prefer to join Chelsea.

The 21-year-old Ecuador international was absent from the Amex Stadium as his current club launched their first campaign to feature European football in commanding fashion.

Luton, back in the top flight for the first time since being relegated from the old First Division in 1992, were second best on the south coast and could have lost by more as Danny Welbeck, Pascal Gross and Ferguson each struck the woodwork.

With Caicedo seemingly heading for the exit, Brighton handed debuts to Mahmoud Dahoud, James Milner and Pedro.

Brazilian forward Pedro, whose every touch was booed by the travelling fans following his £30million transfer from Luton’s bitter rivals Watford, should have opened the scoring inside five minutes but he skewed wastefully wide of the gaping goal.

The clubs were facing each other for the first time since the southern final of the Football League Trophy in 2009, with their only previous top-flight meetings coming during the 1982-83 campaign.

Luton did the double over Albion by an aggregate score of 9-2 back then but remained on the back foot, albeit the hosts appeared susceptible to counter attacks.

Albion eventually turned their dominance of the ball into a lead nine minutes before the break.

Kaoru Mitoma was afforded time and space on the left and his inviting, inswinging cross gave the unmarked March a simple headed finish from six yards out.

Albion’s advantage was almost instantly wiped out as Hatters forward Morris thumped a header too close to home goalkeeper Jason Steele from Ryan Giles’ corner before Welbeck hit the base of the right post at the other end.

Despite their limited possession, Luton, who were a non-league club as recently as 2014, were far from overawed in the first half and went into the break with reason for encouragement.

Gross fired against the outside of the left upright from a wide free-kick early in the second period as Roberto De Zerbi’s men attempted to add to their slender lead.

Brighton were in need of a cushion and it arrived 19 minutes from time when Pedro tumbled under Lockyer’s challenge before, as he had done twice in pre-season, firing into the right corner from 12 yards.

Albion looked set to ease to victory on the back of last season’s club-record sixth-placed finish which secured a Europa League place.

Yet Morris’ successful 81st-minute penalty after a cross from substitute Jacob Brown struck the elbow of Dunk briefly brought back the tension.

However, Ivory Coast winger Adingra, who was loaned to Belgian club Union Saint-Gilloise last season, thumped home just four minutes later after Mpanzu inexplicably failed to clear.

Striker Ferguson then rattled the right post with a fine curling effort.

The Republic of Ireland international would not be denied a place on the scoresheet and duly slid home Pervis Estupinan’s low cross deep into added time.

Roberto De Zerbi insists leading Premier League clubs “can’t buy our soul” as Moises Caicedo edges closer to becoming the latest star name to depart Brighton.

Albion have accepted a British record transfer fee in the region of £110million from Liverpool for the Ecuador midfielder, although reports suggest he would prefer to join Chelsea.

The Seagulls, who start the new season at home to newly-promoted Luton on Saturday, have become accustomed to selling key players for hefty fees.

Argentina World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister moved to Anfield earlier this summer, while Arsenal pair Ben White and Leandro Trossard, Chelsea defender Marc Cucurella and Tottenham midfielder Yves Bissouma also left the Amex Stadium in the past two years.

De Zerbi is resigned to losing 21-year-old Caicedo but had a defiant message as he focused on further strengthening his squad going into a campaign which will include Europa League football.

“I’ve already forgotten Moises,” said the Italian. “I’m really proud for the players we have in the squad. We have to complete the squad.

“We want to improve the squad because we lost Mac Allister, we lost (Levi) Colwill (on loan from Chelsea last season), maybe we lose Caicedo.

“We have to be ready because when the players leave it’s because they played well but the credit is for the club, for the players, for us, the coaches.

“The big clubs can buy the players but they can’t buy our soul and our spirit. That’s not on the market and this is more important than the players when they leave.

“The money is not my work, is not my job. I can answer only about the transfer market in general. Moises is leaving and is not important for me now.”

The new Premier League season kicks off this weekend with clubs still finalising their squads for the challenge ahead.

Champions Manchester City and last season’s runners-up Arsenal will resume battle with the Gunners’ having struck an early blow in the Community Shield, while newcomers Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton begin the task of ensuring their stay among the big boys is not fleeting.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the opening fixtures.

Auf wiedersehen, Harry?

Harry Kane’s “will he, won’t he?” summer saga finally approached its conclusion on the eve of the new campaign as he headed for Germany with a view to tying up a £95million switch from Tottenham to Bayern Munich. The England skipper’s impending departure is likely to dismay fans of a club which drastically under-achieved in finishing eighth last season. Spurs open their campaign at Brentford on Sunday with the travelling supporters contemplating what life after Harry may represent.

Big six backlash?

If last season’s top three had a familiar look about it with Manchester United following their neighbours and Arsenal across the finishing line, there was a measure of turbulence below them as Newcastle disturbed the established order to push Liverpool out of the top four and Brighton claimed sixth spot with Aston Villa hot on their heels. Despite losing Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino to the Saudi Arabian exodus, the Reds have added World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai to their ranks with Moises Caicedo also seemingly on his way to Anfield, while James Maddison is perhaps the most eye-catching of Tottenham’s summer arrivals and Chelsea’s spending spree shows no signs of abating as the wounded prepare to fight back.

Baptism of fire

If Gary O’Neil felt hard done by when he was relieved of his duties at Bournemouth in June having steered the club to Premier League safety, it did not blunt his readiness to take on a challenge. The former Portsmouth and Middlesbrough midfielder was parachuted into the hotseat vacated by dissatisfied Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui after the Spaniard and the club decided to go their separate ways as a result of disagreements over recruitment. O’Neil stepped into the void with just days to prepare for Wolves’ opening fixture – a daunting trip to a rejuvenated Manchester United on Monday evening.

Welcome to the jungle

Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton will set foot in the top flight knowing the first and overwhelming priority is survival. Last season was the first since 2017-18 when the three promoted clubs all stayed up, with at least one having made an immediate return to the top flight at the end of each of the previous four. The Hatters last played in England’s top division in 1992, but having worked their way back from the non-league ranks in the last decade, they know all about fighting tooth and nail.

In it for the long haul

Unpopular as it may be with some, referees’ chief Howard Webb has insisted moves to eradicate time-wasting are here to stay, and that means there could be some lengthy matches this season. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Manchester United defender Raphael Varane are among those to have questioned moves to tackle the game’s “dark arts”, as well as behaviour on and off the pitch, but their concerns have fallen on deaf ears. How will they feel after the weekend?

Luton boss Rob Edwards will fulfil a dream when he sends his team into Premier League action for the first time at Brighton on Saturday.

Edwards took charge at Kenilworth Road in November last year and guided a club which less than a decade earlier had been plying its trade in non-league football back into the top flight after a 31-year absence.

Life since victory in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final has been something of a whirlwind, with the Hatters busily preparing for their latest – and perhaps biggest – challenge on and off the pitch, but Edwards admits he will feel a huge sense of pride when the dream finally becomes a reality.

He told a press conference: “I’m really proud. It’s hard because you don’t always think about it, you just think about what’s next and don’t always have time to reflect.

“It’s been an aim of mine for long time. I think most people would agree the Premier League is the highest level.”

The game at the Amex Stadium could see skipper Tom Lockyer make his first competitive appearance since collapsing on the pitch early in the play-off final, the result of a heart scare which has since been addressed by surgery.

Edwards added: “This is extremely important and special for Tom. That day was made special by knowing he was OK.

“It was the most scared I’ve ever been during a football game. Health is the most important thing and it’s great to have him back.

“He’s had his own journey as well – he was in the National League and now leading his team out in the Premier League.”

Edwards’ hand has been strengthened since promotion by the arrival of nine summer signings, perhaps the most eye-catching of them former Everton and England midfielder Ross Barkley, and there could be several debuts, particularly with Jordan Clark, Dan Potts, Gabe Osho and Reece Burke all on the casualty list.

Excitement levels are understandably high, but Edwards knows there is a long and tough season ahead.

He said: “We’ve got a big season ahead and it’s been a long time coming since the final kick at Wembley. The elation turns quite real and now we feel ready.

“The fans are the most important people at any football club. They are the most important to me, they’re here before us and they’ll be here after us.

“They’ve been through some really bleak times in the past, so hopefully they can enjoy these moments because they deserve it.”

Liverpool have agreed a British record transfer fee of £110million for Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo, according to reports.

The 21-year-old Ecuador international has been a target for Chelsea all summer but Brighton have held firm in their valuation.

Now the Reds appear to have stepped in and hijacked the deal to complete their midfield rebuild following the departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho.

Should he complete the move, Caicedo will be reunited with Alexis Mac Allister, the Argentinian World Cup winner who left the Seagulls for Anfield in June.

The reported fee would eclipse the previous British record fee of £107m that Chelsea paid for Enzo Fernandez in January.

It would also represent another massive profit for Brighton, who signed Caicedo from Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle for £4m in 2021.

Chelsea have completed the signing of goalkeeper Robert Sanchez from Brighton on a seven-year deal.

The Blues agreed a £25million deal with Brighton to sign the 25-year-old Spaniard on Thursday and have now finalised the move.

The transfer involves an up-front £25m payment, with an additional sell-on clause included, the PA news agency understands.

Chelsea’s co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart said on the club website: “We’re very pleased to welcome Robert to Chelsea and he adds further quality to our goalkeeping unit.

“Robert has repeatedly proved himself in the Premier League and been capped by his country. We are excited to watch him work with (head coach) Mauricio (Pochettino) and his coaching team during the season ahead.”

Sanchez, who made 23 Premier League appearances for Brighton last season, will challenge Kepa Arrizabalaga for a starting place at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have now made seven summer signings under Pochettino, who is rebuilding the squad following his appointment in May as a permanent replacement for Graham Potter.

France defender Axel Disasi and 19-year-old midfielder Lesley Ugochukwu arrived at Stamford Bridge earlier this week from Monaco and Rennes respectively.

Wingers Diego Moreira (Benfica B) and Angelo (Santos) plus forwards Nicolas Jackson (Villarreal) and Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig) have also been signed this summer.

Sanchez, who has made two senior appearances for Spain and was included in both their Euro 2020 and World Cup 2022 squads, made 91 appearances for Brighton in all competitions after progressing through their academy.

He had loan spells at Forest Green and Rochdale before becoming a regular starter for Brighton during the 2020-21 season.

Chelsea have agreed a £25million deal with Brighton for goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, the PA news agency understands.

Sanchez – who saw Jason Steele come in as Brighton’s number one during the latter half of last season – is set to join the Blues to offer competition for Kepa Arrizabalaga following the departure of Edouard Mendy to Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli.

It is understood the transfer involves an up-front £25million payment, with an additional sell-on clause included.

 

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Spain international Sanchez, 25, worked with Chelsea goalkeeping coach Ben Roberts when he was at Brighton. Roberts left for Stamford Bridge in September 2022.

New Blues manager Mauricio Pochettino is in the process of overhauling his squad following the club’s worst season in almost 30 years.

Chelsea have also been linked with a move for Seagulls midfielder Moises Caicedo, with Brighton said to be looking for a £100m fee.

France forward Christopher Nkunku, who arrived from RB Leipzig in a £63million switch, continues to be assessed on a knee problem which forced him off during the final game of Chelsea’s pre-season tour in the United States against Borussia Dortmund.

“The doctors are checking him and I hope it is not a big issue,” Pochettino told reporters following the 1-1 draw at Soldier Field in Chicago.

“He fell in the action which was maybe a penalty and he feels something in his knee, but we hope it is nothing big.

“We hope he can be back quickly with the team. We need a few days to assess him.”

Chelsea open the new Premier League campaign at home to Liverpool on August 13.

Liverpool have landed two midfielders perfectly fit for their system in Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, according to Reds legend John Barnes.

Jurgen Klopp secured the services of Mac Allister for a reported initial £35million from Brighton and Hove Albion, while Szoboszlai arrived from RB Leipzig for £60m (€69m) ahead of the 2023-24 season.

The pair will likely be utilised as multi-functional midfielders, adding energy to an ageing Liverpool midfield, which is expected to lose Fabinho and Jordan Henderson to Saudi Arabia.

Having initially played as a winger before moving to a central role, Barnes believes the versatility of Mac Allister and Szoboszlai makes the duo a tailormade fit for Klopp's men.

"Last season I think it was fairly apparent that we needed midfield players," Barnes told Stats Perform. "Of course, what you do is you use every opportunity to get who you can.

"So, in the strikers that we've got, I think that bodes well for the future. But I think you can see that we were a little bit short in midfield from an age perspective but also from a quality and intensity perspective.

"We knew we were going to lose two or three midfield players, so they are welcome additions to the squad from a positional point of view and also from the quality point of view too."

Mac Allister was also the only player to average two-plus shots (2.68), two-plus tackles (2.18) and 50+ passes (56.2) per 90 minutes in last term's Premier League, among players with 1,000 or more minutes.

That all-round approach and energetic demeanour makes the 24-year-old a suitable fit for Klopp's high-pressing philosophy, in the opinion of Barnes.

"It's not all about what impresses me, but he's the type of player who will suit our style," Barnes said of Mac Allister, who hit 10 league goals for Brighton last term.

"He may not be able to play for Manchester City but that doesn't mean he's better or worse. It's just that we have to sign players that suit our style and are hardworking all-action midfield players.

"He's not a Bernardo Silva type, but he suits what we want. Liverpool have always done that and looked to get players who suit their system, regardless of how other good other people think they are, or not.

"He suits our midfield profile and the template of a midfield player that we want. Hardworking, aggression and playing the ball forward quickly. He suits our style perfectly."

While Mac Allister impressed for Brighton and also Argentina during their triumphant World Cup campaign in Qatar, Szoboszlai arrives as a lesser-known star on English soil.

The Hungary international again fits Klopp's criteria for free-flowing aggressive football, having been involved in 163 open play shot-ending sequences in last season's Bundesliga – 49 shots, 48 chances created, 66 in the build-up – the fourth-highest figure of any player.

Barnes added: "I haven't seen much of him. But once again, you look at him in terms of his size, his aggression, his ability to get up and down.

"And once again, I trust in Jurgen Klopp and the staff to know exactly what they want. Not many people have heard of him, I'm one who didn't hear of him but they would have done their homework on him.

"So I have faith in them because they know the type of player they want. As I said, I haven't seen much of him but he seems to be quite impressive."

What the papers say

Chelsea will make a second bid for Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo, adding £10million and add-ons to their first offer of £70million, the Daily Mail said.

Liverpool’s quest for a younger midfield will come at a hefty cost with Crystal Palace valuing Cheick Doucoure at £70million, the Daily Mail reports. Liverpool have already added Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai to their midfield this summer.

The Guardian says Chelsea are also thinking of making a bid for Marc Guehi, who they sold to Crystal Palace two years ago. Chelsea are trying to fill the void in defence that will be left by Wesley Fofana who had surgery on a serious knee injury.

Newcastle are on the verge of selling Allan Saint-Maximin to Saudi Pro League club Al-Ahli for around £30million, as they look to bring in Leicester’s Harvey Barnes, according to the Telegraph.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Pedro: Tottenham are interested in signing the 26-year-old Brazilian striker who plays for Flamengo, the Independent said.

Ivan Fresneda: Bournemouth look likely to beat Barcelona, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund to the signing of the 18-year-old Valladolid defender with a bid of £15million, according to Football Insider.

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