Mykhailo Mudryk is "the most talented and unique player in the world", and patient work on the training ground will see Chelsea get the best out of the winger.

That is the view of Serhiy Palkin, Shakhtar Donetsk's chief executive who struck the £89million deal which took Mudryk from Ukraine to Stamford Bridge last January.

Like many of the big-money recruits of the Todd Boehly era, Mudryk has struggled for consistency since arriving in west London, after emerging as one of Europe's hottest prospects at Shakhtar.

Between the start of 2021-22 and his move to the Premier League, Mudryk averaged a goal involvement every 70 minutes in the Ukrainian top flight, scoring nine goals and adding 13 assists in just 23 appearances during that spell.

However, Mudryk has just three goals and four assists to his name in 34 Premier League appearances, and he attracted more criticism for an ineffective substitute appearance in Sunday's EFL Cup final defeat to Liverpool.

Palkin, however, remains convinced of the 23-year-old's talent and feels he simply needs close attention from Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff. 

"I can tell you that for me, Mudryk is the most talented and unique player in the world," Palkin told Stats Perform.

"I believe that in order to get from Mudryk the maximum, as they anticipate, you need to invest in him. These investments are not money. 

"It's time for the coaching staff to communicate with him and to work closely with him. He is a young boy, he changed from the Ukrainian Championship to the Premier League. 

"It's a completely different world, with completely different levels, completely different football. 

"Therefore, I believe that if the coaching staff dedicates him some time, he will return three, four, or five times more."

One former Shakhtar man who made a far more immediate impact in the Premier League is Roberto De Zerbi, who led Brighton and Hove Albion to Europa League qualification last term while implementing a daring style of play. 

The Seagulls are in the hunt for European qualification again this season, and they rank second in the Premier League for average passes per sequence (5.01), third for build-up attacks (127) and joint-first for high turnovers resulting in goals (seven).

After overseeing Brighton's dramatic rise, De Zerbi has been tipped to move on to pastures new, with both Barcelona and Liverpool suggested as possible landing spots for the Italian.

Palkin has no doubt De Zerbi is destined for the top, saying: "I can tell you that he did a lot for Brighton, he did brilliant work for Brighton. 

"I believe 100 per cent that he can jump into a top club tomorrow, even today, 100 per cent. The most important thing is he must accept the proposition.

"I believe he has a lot of propositions, including in Italian football and English football. Therefore, everything, everything, everything depends on him."

Brighton have suffered a blow with the news that Kaoru Mitoma is expected to miss the rest of the season.

The Japan winger, who has lit up the Amex Stadium for much of the last two campaigns, has suffered a back injury which could leave him on the sidelines for three months.

He has already missed a chunk of the season due to an ankle injury and his participation in the Asia Cup.

Mitoma’s prolonged absence will be a big blow in the Seagulls’ quest for a top-six finish in the Premier League, their Europa League campaign – where they play Roma in the last 16 – and their FA Cup challenge, which continues at Wolves on Wednesday.

Boss Roberto De Zerbi said at a press conference to preview the trip to Molineux: “It’s a bad, bad situation. It’s the back injury which kept him out against Everton (at the weekend). It’s an important problem. I think two or three months, (so) finished (for) the season.”

The Seagulls will also be without Evan Ferguson (ankle) and Joel Veltman, while Danny Welbeck is a doubt and Billy Gilmour is suspended.

“Ferguson tomorrow, he can’t play,” De Zerbi added. “Welbeck has a problem and we have to make a check.

“Veltman as well can’t play and the other players injured can’t play.”

Luton moved out of the Premier League relegation zone as an Elijah Adebayo hat-trick stunned Brighton.

The Hatters leapfrogged Everton with a fantastic 4-0 victory at home to Roberto De Zerbi’s side, who fell behind to Adebayo’s first inside the opening minute.

Kenilworth Road was truly rocking shortly afterwards as Chiedozie Ogbene doubled the lead before Adebayo struck either side of the interval to complete a famous win for Rob Edwards’ men.

Everton slipped into the drop zone after drawing 0-0 in a forgettable contest at Fulham.

At the top of the table, Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners at Nottingham Forest to move up to second behind leaders Liverpool.

After a dull first half, Gabriel Jesus broke the deadlock with a finish from an acute angle before laying on the second for Bukayo Saka.

Substitute Taiwo Awoniyi halved the deficit late on but the Gunners saw out stoppage time to take the three points.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa’s 17-match unbeaten run at home in the league came to a shuddering halt as they were thrashed 3-1 by Newcastle.

A double from defender Fabian Schar had the away side in charge at the break and they extended their lead through an Alex Moreno own goal – with Ollie Watkins hitting a late consolation for Villa.

An Eberechi Eze brace helped Crystal Palace twice rally from behind to beat bottom club Sheffield United 3-2 at Selhurst Park.

Ben Brereton-Diaz put the Blades ahead in the first minute and they retook the lead through James McAtee after Eze had levelled for the hosts.

England international Eze was again on hand to equalise with Michael Olise, who had provided the two assists for the Palace goals, hitting the winner to take some of the heat off under-pressure Eagles boss Roy Hodgson.

Luton scored twice in the opening two minutes and 17 seconds en route to a stunning 4-0 win against Brighton at Kenilworth Road.

Aided by a superb hat-trick from striker Elijah Adebayo, this was comfortably the hosts’ biggest Premier League win and their most commanding performance.

It was earned in swashbuckling style as they dismissed an insipid Brighton to move out of the relegation zone for the first time in nearly two months.

Chiedozie Ogbene also netted during a first half in which Roberto De Zerbi’s side simply could not cope with what came their way, a shadow of the team that won the corresponding fixture 4-1 on the opening weekend.

Luton made a start beyond manager Rob Edwards’ most rose-tinted expectations.

Adebayo headed his first after 19 seconds. Ogbene received the ball on the edge of the box and crossed to the far post towards Carlton Morris.

The Hatters captain, leaping determinedly above his marker, nodded back across goal to Adebayo, who got there before goalkeeper Jason Steele to convert.

Brighton barely had time to draw breath before it was two.

Albert Sambi Lokonga’s pinpoint pass dropped in behind the visitors’ defence, which had pushed up, leaving a straight race to the ball between Ogbene and Steele.

It was won comfortably by the fleet-footed Luton winger who toed it beyond the keeper and, with 137 seconds on the clock, poked into an empty goal to cap a breathtaking start.

Rarely, if ever, have Brighton under De Zerbi been so blown away as they were in the opening 25 minutes.

Jordan Clark came close to inflicting further damage when he cut in on his left foot and had a shot blocked by the legs of Steele.

By then, De Zerbi had already lost James Milner to injury, with any pre-game ploy to stymie Luton sinking into disarray.

The stats said Brighton had enjoyed 60 per cent possession but almost all of it had been in their own half, passing themselves in circles in a bid to navigate Luton’s ravenous high pressing.

Pascal Gross scooped a shot more in hope than expectation from outside the box as the Seagulls struggled to come to terms with their predicament.

Lewis Dunk stopped Adebayo with a finely-timed last-ditch slide inside the six-yard box as the striker bore down threatening to wrap the game up after 35 minutes, before Clark had his second good try of the night deflect inches wide.

It was a momentary reprieve.

Adebayo’s second and Luton’s third was a gem and owed everything to the timing of the striker’s run, hanging just behind Brighton’s defensive line until Ross Barkley released his pass.

The finish ripped past Steele at his near post.

Brighton had won three of their previous 15 league games, success this season season being propped up by progress in Europe and in the FA Cup.

Here, they showed nothing of the form that saw them start the campaign with five wins out of six.

Luton’s goals were getting easier to come by.

In the 55th minute Adebayo completed his hat-trick, heading in Alfie Doughty’s corner from amongst a static Brighton defence, the only movement towards the ball coming from striker Joao Pedro who inadvertently flicked it into his opposite number’s path.

Thomas Kaminski made a late save from Danny Welbeck which was worthy of his outfield team-mates’ efforts.

For Brighton, it had been a chastening night.

Roberto De Zerbi admitted depleted Brighton are dropping too many Premier League points following a frustrating goalless stalemate with Wolves.

Albion dominated possession at the Amex Stadium as they stretched their unbeaten home run to a club-record nine top-flight fixtures to climb to seventh, above Manchester United on goal difference.

But the Seagulls, who lacked a cutting edge on Monday evening, have drawn five of those fixtures and a league-high eight matches overall.

Brighton boss De Zerbi feels a lengthy injury list and European commitments are impacting his side’s league results.

“We have to understand the situation of injuries, we have to understand how much energy we spent in the Europa League, in FA Cup, we have to analyse if we will be lucky or unlucky,” said the Italian, whose side drew 0-0 with West Ham in their previous game.

“In the last two games in the Premier League we have been unlucky because two points after two games with good quality to win the game, we are losing too many points.

“We have been unlucky because five draws (at home), for example Sheffield United, Burnley, Fulham and Wolverhampton, we deserved to win all of the games.

“We didn’t play the best game in my time (tonight) but we created a condition to win the game.

“Yes, we made some mistakes in the crucial part of the pitch and for it we didn’t win.”

Brighton controlled the play against Wolves but rarely threatened.

Facundo Buonanotte saw an early diving header cleared off the line by Tommy Doyle, while Wanderers captain Maximilian Kilman hit the frame of his own goal.

De Zerbi remains without the creative talents of Kaoru Mitoma, Simon Adingra, Ansu Fati, Solly March and Julio Enciso but dismissed talk of recruiting reinforcements this month.

“No, transfer market is not my business,” he said.

“I have to be focused on my work and my work is to give organisation, to give a style, to try the condition to play well and make points.

“We are seventh place on the table and if you consider how many problems we had in the first part of the season we have to be proud because we are playing better than the situation we are enduring.”

Wolves were thrashed 6-0 in this fixture last season but could have snatched victory.

Pedro Neto, Matheus Cunha and Mario Lemina each went close for the counter-attacking visitors.

In the absence of 10-goal top scorer Hwang Hee-chan, Neto played as a central striker on the south coast on his first start since October.

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil was impressed with the impact of the Portugal forward but hopes to bolster his striking options during the transfer window.

“We always had that threat,” said O’Neil. “Pedro was good, probably played a little bit longer than we would have liked ideally.

“I just felt there was still a goal in him so tried to push him a little bit more than was ideal but pleased that he got through it.

“Hopefully over the next few days we can do something in the window that can help us in that area.

“Until then we work hard to try and maximise what we have in the room and I felt we did that well today.

“The main thing was we looked like a team, we stuck together and when it got tough in certain situations we looked like we could cope and always had that threat.”

Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi admits he will demand more from Joao Pedro even though only Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah have scored more this season.

The Brazilian’s late double in a 4-2 victory at Stoke avoided a potential FA Cup upset and took his personal tally to 15 in his maiden campaign for the Seagulls.

It equalled Glenn Murray’s 15-goal haul from the 2018-19 season and the club’s best return in a top-flight campaign since Michael Robinson (22) in 1980-81.

Manchester City’s Haaland (19) and Liverpool’s Salah (18) are the only Premier League players to have have scored more in all competitions but De Zerbi believes that is the level to which the youngster has to aspire.

“I love Joao Pedro and I know his potential. I know how he can improve and become important for us,” said the Italian.

“I would like always something more because for us this level of performance is enough but I think he can reach a higher level and to reach that level he can play better, he can push more and more.

“I would like him to start the game in the beginning not in the second half or after 20 minutes and I will tell him my opinion.”

De Zerbi admits he had never heard of Joao Pedro when the club lined up the £30million summer transfer from Watford.

“The credit for Joao Pedro is to the club. The recruitment department told me the name of Joao, I didn’t know Joao before he came with us,” he added.

Pedro’s goals in the final 19 minutes were decisive as his side had recovered from Jan Paul Van Hecke’s own goal to lead through Pervis Estupinan and Lewis Dunk only for Lewis Baker’s penalty to put the outcome in some doubt.

Asked how important it was to avoid a replay, De Zerbi said: “Especially if you think how many games we played from the beginning of the season.

“To reach the last 16 of the Europa League and to win today means we have to play three games less and that’s important in this moment if you consider how many players we have .”

This was Stoke head coach Steven Schumacher’s first defeat in his fifth match in charge and he admits he is still learning about his squad.

“Whenever you play against a Premier League team you learn lessons about what you have got,” he said.

“I learned our team has got character. When we conceded a goal just before half-time it could have knocked the wind out of us but it didn’t and we caused Brighton a few problems.

“The difference is in the big moments they punish you.”

Weary West Ham and burned-out Brighton served up a lifeless goalless draw to dent both sides’ top-five ambitions.

Two makeshift teams were missing 16 first-team players between them through injury, illness or suspension, and in West Ham’s case also due to the Africa Cup of Nations which has cost them the services of in-form forward Mohammed Kudus for a month.

Given that it was West Ham’s ninth game in a month, and Brighton’s eighth, managers David Moyes and Roberto De Zerbi would probably have shaken hands on a draw before kick-off and gone to watch the darts instead.

As it was, 60,000 people had to battle a storm to get to the London Stadium before sitting through a match played at a snail’s pace.

It was Brighton’s first goalless draw in 48 Premier League games, their last coming against Nottingham Forest in October 2022.

There was at least something to celebrate for midfielder James Milner, whose 632nd Premier League appearance moved him level with former Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs for second on the all-time list.

During an opening half an hour of new year lethargy, West Ham had a half-hearted penalty appeal waved away when Edson Alvarez tripped over Billy Gilmour’s leg. Emerson Palmieri then scuffed a shot wide.

James Ward-Prowse saw a volley well saved by Jason Steele before Jarrod Bowen’s cross was headed over the crossbar by Konstantinos Mavropanos.

Said Benrahma, left out of Algeria’s AFCON squad, was handed a rare chance by Moyes in the absence of Kudus and Lucas Paqueta and the winger made one mazy run inside from the left wing only to curl his shot wide.

West Ham were marginally the more adventurous team but Brighton probably had the best two chances of the first half.

First Ben Johnson was booked for a foul on Facundo Buonanotte 25 yards out and from Pascal Gross’ cross, Alphonse Areola palmed away a far-post Danny Welbeck header and then saved the rebound from Jack Hinshelwood.

Gross then got in between West Ham’s centre-halves but planted his header from Milner’s cross too close to Areola.

After the break Welbeck’s fierce shot forced a fine diving save from Areola with Milner, who turns 38 on Thursday, skying the rebound.

West Ham should have broken the deadlock on the hour when Benrahma’s cross was deflected into the path of Tomas Soucek but the Czech midfielder stabbed his effort wide.

But Brighton finished stronger and Evan Ferguson, on as a substitute, almost had an immediate impact with a low drive which beat the dive of Areola but rolled inches past the far post.

Jakub Moder blazed over from close range and Areola made another decent save to deny Adam Lallana and preserve a point for the hosts.

Roberto De Zerbi saluted Joao Pedro after his two-goal display against Tottenham, but admitted he fears the forward’s stay at Brighton may be brief.

Pedro starred in a thrilling 4-2 win for the Seagulls on Thursday night, scoring twice from the penalty spot and also setting up Jack Hinshelwood’s opener.

Brazilian attacker Pedro only moved to Brighton in May for a fee in the region of £30million, but has hit 13 goals for his new club, with seven of them in the last nine matches.


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De Zerbi said: “He is the best player on the pitch, I think. He played another incredible game.

“I am really pleased for his improvement on mentality, on attitude. In defensive phase, incredible because he defended 90 minutes like a centre-back in terms of mentality.

“He is becoming, I think, a top player. I hope in the next year to work with him but I think it will be very tough.”

While Pedro tormented Tottenham all night long, it was a superb team display by Brighton, especially for the first hour on the south coast.

To top off an excellent end to 2023, Pervis Estupinan marked his first Premier League appearance since September with a superb 25-yard strike.

“It’s an incredible goal but the most important thing about Estupinan is we recover an important player because we are losing a lot of players on injuries,” De Zerbi admitted.

“We cannot play with 10 or nine players.”

Estupinan’s return from a muscle problem occurred at half-time with fellow left-back Igor Julio forced off with a tendon problem.

Youngster Facundo Buonanotte also had to be replaced with an injury concern and De Zerbi admitted they are initial doubts for the trip to West Ham next week.

He added: “Igor and Facundo suffered injuries. I don’t know if important and I don’t know for the next game in West Ham’s stadium but Igor couldn’t play the second half (due to) a tendon injury.

“And Facundo is a muscular problem.”

De Zerbi also fielded questions on Japan winger Kaoru Mitoma, who has been ruled out for four to six weeks with an ankle injury which has placed in doubt his participation in next month’s Asian Cup.

“I hope it can be less than four (weeks), but the medical staff say four, five or six weeks and I am working for Brighton, not for Japan. I can say nothing for Japan,” the Italian insisted.

“I hope for you that Kaoru can play in Asian Cup but I don’t know.”

Meanwhile, Brighton have confirmed long-serving board members Derek Chapman and Marc Sugarman will step down as non-executive directors on June 30.

Chapman has been involved with the club since 1999, while Sugarman first joined in 2009.

Ange Postecoglou defended his “tired” Tottenham team after they were blown away in a six-goal thriller at Brighton.

Joao Pedro struck a brace of penalties while Jack Hinshelwood and Pervis Estupinan produced fine strikes in a well deserved 4-2 victory for Roberto De Zerbi’s men.

While Alejo Veliz and Ben Davies scored in the final 10 minutes, Spurs were second best for much of the night and suffered a fifth Premier League defeat of the campaign.

Both clubs have faced numerous injuries during recent months, with Brighton without eight players for this contest and Tottenham nine, which led to Postecoglou taking a philosophical view.

Postecoglou said: “Fair to say we were looking a bit tired and lacked our usual sharpness, especially at the start of the game. We’ve been starting games well.

“I guess that’s understandable, we’ve been on this run for a while now and asking players to perform at levels. It’s very demanding the way we play, physically, and today we kind of looked like a team that wasn’t at its sharpest.

“Brighton are a good side and they took advantage of that. Ultimately what I do know is the players, everything they had they gave and that’s all I can ask for.”

Pedro found the unmarked Hinshelwood to fire beyond Guglielmo Vicario, who had twice denied Danny Welbeck early on, and the Brazilian then rolled home a spot-kick after Dejan Kulusevski was penalised for pulling Welbeck.

Vicario was forced into action several more times, while James Milner also hit the post before Estupinan capped his comeback appearance with a goal from 25 yards.

The offside flag had denied Richarlison twice but Spurs’ miserable night was compounded when substitute Giovani Lo Celso brought down Evan Ferguson and Pedro slotted home to make it 4-0.

Tottenham fought back with Veliz scoring his first goal in English football with nine minutes left before Ben Davies headed home at the back post, but it finished 4-2.

Postecoglou had no qualms with either penalty decision, although did take umbrage with VAR not punishing Brighton captain Lewis Dunk for a poor tackle on Kulusevski in the build-up to Veliz scoring.

“It was obviously clear and obvious because it only took him (Jarred Gillett) three minutes to see it on the screen, and VAR picked up everything today except the one tackle which nearly cost me another player,” Postecoglou added.

“It’s been difficult this whole run. We’ve been stretched for a very long time and we’ve just tried to play on through it.

“We’re only in the position we are because of the enormous efforts of the players to do jobs that normally is not in their brief, but they do it willingly and they give everything. Today we fell short but not for the want of trying.”

De Zerbi toasted a brilliant end to a special year where Brighton finished sixth, made the FA Cup semi-finals and progressed into the last 16 of the Europa League.

“Yes, the best way to finish the year,” he added.

“We played a great game because we show incredible courage to defend men-to-men for 90 minutes and to play with that courage, that quality, that style.

“I am sorry we concede two goals and I am sorry we have no clean sheet.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta believes Brighton’s impressive showing in Europe proves just how strong the Premier League has become.

The Seagulls travel to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday just three days on from a late win over Marseille that saw Roberto De Zerbi’s team qualify in top spot from their Europa League group.

Arsenal – who themselves won their Champions League group – were roundly beaten by Brighton in the corresponding fixture last season, with the 3-0 loss all-but ending their Premier League title hopes.

Arteta feels Brighton have “evolved” since last year and, along with West Ham and Aston Villa also topping their respective European groups, knows the standard in the Premier League makes any fixture a challenge.

Asked if the league is now tougher than ever, the Spaniard replied: “I think so.

“Not only with those teams but you have to really sweat and suffer to win any game in this league. You have examples every week, the margins of how teams are winning games is minimal.

“They are a really good side. Last year when we had the game under control, we conceded a goal and then the game completely broke up and we struggled, especially in the last 15 minutes of the game, so we have to play better and be very efficient, which is key against them.

“A lot of things happened that day as well. We were missing some key, key players and we lost Gabriel Martinelli straight away before half-time. A lot of things happened.

“The margin was none. Losing any points and the title was almost over and we had to cope with that. Now, the situation is very different because it’s still a marathon to go.”

Arteta will be back in the dugout for the game after watching from the stand as Arsenal lost at Aston Villa last time out having received three yellow cards this season.

An animated character on the touchline, Arteta may have met his match in De Zerbi – but he is a bit of a fan of his Brighton counterpart.

“We live the game as we feel it,” he added.

“When I was a player, it was very similar. Everybody has their own way of being, talking and communicating. I think it’s great. As long as we’re genuine, I think that’s great.

“I know him and have spoken to him a few times about different topics. I’ve followed his career since he was at Sassuolo, before he moved to Ukraine.

“It’s very impressive what he’s done, the way his teams play and what he’s accomplished in the Premier League as well.”

Roberto De Zerbi hailed Brighton’s last-gasp 1-0 victory over Marseille to top Europa League Group B as a “historic moment” in the club’s history.

Joao Pedro smashed in an 89th-minute winner at the Amex Stadium to make sure the Seagulls avoided the play-off round and instead slotted straight into the last 16.

Italian De Zerbi, who masterminded progressing from a group that included Ajax and AEK Athens along with the French 1993 European Cup winners, said: “We haven’t won anything…yet, but we are really happy and proud.

“I told the players before the game that the game was more important for us than them. Marseille are used to playing in European competitions.

“To finish at the top of the table is a historical moment.

“The atmosphere during the game was incredible. The crowd were a 12th player like I’ve never seen before.

“It is important because we don’t have to play an extra game.

“After going 2-0 down in Marseille in the first game, we changed everything and after that game we won four games in a row with four clean sheets in a row. That is incredible.”

De Zerbi dedicated the result to the players and fans of former club Foggia – who lost a Serie C title decider to Gennaro Gattuso-managed Pisa in 2016.

His revenge on the now Marseille boss came courtesy of Joao Pedro – who ended the group stage with six goals and the competition’s leading scorer.

The Brazilian was threaded through by Pascal Gross before skipping past a tackle and thumping into the top corner, making the Amex erupt and De Zerbi jump into the crowd.

De Zerbi said of his goalscorer: “Joao is playing very well. He is becoming a great player in mentality – which playing for his national team has helped.

“The qualities of Joao are clear. We want to help him become a great player.”

Joao Pedro added: “I’m very happy. These are the best moments of my life. Thank you to my team-mates, they always support me.

“I’m very happy to be top scorer in the Europa League. To be top of the table, in the league or top scorer, you need to keep going through hard work.”

Marseille just needed a draw to avoid a play-off match against one of the teams that finished third in the Champions League.

Jonathan Clauss and Amine Harit both hit the woodwork before the visitors parked the bus, only to be undone by Brighton’s late winner.

Boss Gattuso said: “We knew what type of match this would be. We knew what level Brighton play at and the quality they have.

“We prepared to face them but their level of quality was too strong.

“We didn’t lack courage but it is the quality in the end that showed.”

Burnley boss Vincent Kompany is not surprised by James Milner’s longevity and said his old team-mate is perhaps the hardest-working player he has ever known.

Kompany will come up against Milner on Saturday when the Clarets head south to take on Brighton, the club Milner joined in the summer after eight years at Liverpool.

The 37-year-old has made 13 appearances for the Seagulls despite some injury niggles, lending his wealth of experience as Roberto De Zerbi’s squad balances the demands of European football with their domestic duties for the first time.

“He’s older than me!” joked Kompany, who is three months Milner’s junior. “I’m not surprised and if there’s one guy that was going to do that it was going to be Milly. His longevity – it’s because he’s probably the hardest working player I’ve ever played with.

“I’ve seen his journey from being this winger, attacking midfielder, central midfielder, full-back. And every single time people would have bet against him. But if you know him and his personality, you would never bet a penny against him…

“There might have been loads of players who are better than James, but how many have had his career? Very, very few.”

Milner’s medal collection includes a Champions League crown with Liverpool and three Premier League titles. He won two of those alongside Kompany at City before joining Liverpool on a free transfer in 2015.

That exit left a sour taste among many in the blue half of Manchester, but not Kompany.

“You always want your best players to stay but for his career it was a great move,” he said. “I’ve always wanted him to do well.”

Saturday’s trip to the Amex Stadium will bring back happy memories for Kompany, who lifted the Premier League trophy there in 2019 in his final game in English football.

“It feels like a lifetime ago, the job I’m in consumes you that much,” he said. “But, yeah, it was four-and-a-half years ago – it feels like it was 20 years ago.

“I’d be rubbish if I was in that profession now. But they are good memories and maybe in the future – maybe one Christmas – those moments can be replayed with the kids.”

City won 4-1 that day to pip Liverpool – and Milner – to the title by one point with a run of 14 straight victories, perhaps fortunate to come across a Brighton side who had only ensured their own top-flight survival the weekend before when Cardiff lost to Crystal Palace.

But the club Burnley will face on Saturday have come a long, long way since then, and are seen by many as the model club for anyone wanting to challenge the Premier League’s top sides.

Kompany pointed out Burnley were a model themselves for a long time, having held their own in the top flight for seven years despite limited resources, and said it was not as simple as trying to copy what someone has done.

“If this is a path, then I don’t think we should compare ourselves to them, absolutely not,” he said.

“We’re at a completely different stage, but there is a template that’s taken time for them to develop and that’s obviously allowing them to compete above their means.

“That should be a goal for any team in this league.”

Mauricio Pochettino admitted Moises Caicedo’s international commitments with Ecuador have complicated the midfielder’s early Chelsea career.

The club paid a British record £115million to sign the 22-year-old from Brighton in August but frequent trips to South America to play for his country have limited the time he has been able to spend working with coaching staff at Cobham.

He has played 14 times in all competitions since his arrival, recovering from a red card on his first appearance against West Ham to become a steady if not yet spectacular performer in the heart of midfield.

Since joining Chelsea he has been called up three times by Ecuador and played in six matches, with each international window requiring a more than 11,000-mile round trip, sometimes not arriving back in London until the early hours of the day before Chelsea’s next game.

He revealed in an interview with the club’s website this week that he spent much of his first 10 days in England alone in a hotel room in tears and suffering from homesickness, after joining the Seagulls from Independiente del Valle in his home country in January 2021 during the Covid pandemic.

Restrictions on movement for people arriving into the UK meant he was unable to meet his Brighton team-mates until completing a period of quarantine, during which he phoned his parents in Ecuador asking to return home.

He recovered to become one of the standout successes of the team that Roberto De Zerbi led to a club-best sixth-placed Premier League finish last campaign, sparking a bidding war between Liverpool and Chelsea in which Pochettino’s side were victorious.

The manager reiterated a call for patience as Caicedo navigates life at Chelsea amid a hectic World Cup qualifying schedule internationally.

“When we signed him we knew what is going to happen,” said Pochettino. “He’s an emotional guy, an emotional player that needs time to recover.

“It didn’t help also the international games, travelling to Ecuador, to South America. That is really tough every single month, two or three weeks then go 10, 12 days away, then come back sometimes with some injury.

“It’s not an excuse but it’s the reality. Now we need time. Of course I say (the team) always need to perform. That is our mentality. But in some situations like his, we need to give time and not to be unfair in the way that we assess him.”

Caicedo has formed a reliable partnership in midfield with Enzo Fernandez, who the club paid a then-British record £107m to sign from Benfica in January while Graham Potter was in charge.

Pochettino revealed that the Argentinian World Cup winner asked for extra time off during the summer due to fatigue and was granted permission to join up late with the squad on their United States tour.

“It’s different because Enzo arrived last January, he was with different coaches here,” said the manager. “He asked when we arrived for a period of holiday because he was tired after the World Cup and everything. He joined us in North Carolina.

“I cannot judge the past. Only I can talk from when we arrived (at Chelsea). We expect all, not only (these two), all the players, even the ones not too much involved, to push their level.”

Brighton secured a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League after Joao Pedro’s second-half penalty earned an unconvincing 1-0 victory away to 10-man AEK Athens.

In-form forward Pedro converted his fifth goal of the competition in the 55th minute to guarantee the Seagulls a top-two finish in Group B.

Albion were second best before the VAR-awarded spot-kick and fortunate not to fall behind in the closing stages of the first half when AEK forward Steven Zuber struck a post.

The lively hosts were forced to play the final 25 minutes a man down following Mijat Gacinovic’s dismissal for a second yellow card.

Roberto De Zerbi’s men will vie for first place in the pool – and automatic qualification for the last 16 – when Marseille visit the Amex Stadium in the final round of fixtures in two weeks’ time.

Brighton’s maiden European campaign was launched with an underwhelming 3-2 defeat to the Greek champions in September.

Yet the Premier League club arrived at the AEK Arena in control of their own destiny thanks to a battling comeback draw in Marseille and back-to-back wins over Ajax.

Head coach De Zerbi made four changes from Saturday’s 3-2 success at Nottingham Forest, including recalling match-winner Pedro, and saw his injury-hit side start in the ascendancy.

Evan Ferguson was twice blocked as he threatened inside two minutes, while AEK defender Domagoj Vida came close to a calamitous own goal with a firm back pass which had goalkeeper Cican Stankovic scampering across his line.

But the disjointed Seagulls faded from the encouraging start and were in regular danger of falling behind.

AEK forward Zuber forced Albion keeper Bart Verbruggen to turn over a powerful drive before heading narrowly wide from the resultant corner.

Brighton were then lucky not to concede just before the break amid relentless home pressure.

Switzerland international Zuber worked space inside the 18-yard box with quick feet before seeing his angled drive deflect off Lewis Dunk and rattle the left post, with Gacinovic unable to head home the rebound.

Verbruggen was forced to save from Gacinovic after the restart before Brighton snatched the lead against the run of play during a pivotal spell in the contest.

Swiss referee Sandro Scharer initially waved play on when Pedro went to ground under pressure from AEK captain Damian Szymanski before pointing to the spot after viewing a replay of the incident on the pitch-side monitor.

Brazilian forward Pedro duly dispatched his sixth penalty of the season – and third against AEK – by sending Stankovic the wrong way from 12 yards to back up his weekend brace at Forest as a substitute.

Brighton had barely threatened before the opener and their cause was further strengthened just 10 minutes later when Serbia midfielder Gacinovic over-ran the ball and raked his studs into Joel Veltman to receive a second booking.

Seagulls striker Ferguson threatened to double the lead before being repelled as he tried to round Stankovic having been sent clear.

AEK midfielder Orbelin Pineda then flashed wide as the home side pushed for a leveller but Brighton, despite an uninspiring display, held on relatively comfortably to ensure their European adventure continues.

Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi made no apology for celebrating his side’s 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest like they had won the Champions League final.

De Zerbi sprinted straight to the away fans at the City Ground, without shaking counterpart Steve Cooper’s hand, after his side ended a six-game winless run in a drama-filled Premier League encounter.

The Seagulls looked primed for an easy three points after a tidy finish from Evan Ferguson and Joao Pedro’s double, the second from the penalty spot, put them 3-1 up after Anthony Elanga’s early goal for Forest.

But the complexion of the game changed when VAR advised referee Anthony Taylor to give Forest a penalty, with Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk seeing red for his over-zealous protest.

Morgan Gibbs-White scored from the spot but Forest could not find a leveller and Brighton held on for a much-needed win, which moves them into the top seven.

“I want to explain our celebration, it wasn’t disrespectful to the opponent because I am used to living inside of football, but we are suffering a lot with injuries, we lost two players in the first half, we suffered a red card, we lost two points in the last games against Sheffield United and Fulham, the last win in the Premier League was at the end of September.

“We are suffering a lot because it is one of the toughest times in my career. It was a big, big celebration.

“We are very happy and I am very proud of the character and attitude we showed in a very tough moment. Without 10 players if Brighton can compete in two competitions, seventh in the league, and in the Europa League with Ajax, AEK Athens and Marseille, it is difficult.

“We celebrated it like the final in the Champions League, it was not the Champions League, but the way we won the game with 10 players without the captain was excellent.”

Dunk received a straight red card for foul and abusive language following Taylor’s decision to award Forest a penalty, which came 21 seconds after he was booked for encroaching while Taylor checked the VAR monitor.

De Zerbi admitted Dunk apologised to his team-mates but will not face any internal disciplinary action.

“I have not spoken yet with Lewis, he is a good guy, maybe he made a mistake,” De Zerbi added. “For me the situation is not clear. We have to accept the referee’s decision.

“I always accept the referee’s decision. Dunky is a fan of Brighton, he is not a simple player. We can understand his emotion and his mistakes.

“I don’t like rules. I am not a policeman, I am coach. He said sorry to everyone, he has understood his mistake.”

Forest boss Cooper said would have liked the opportunity to shake De Zerbi’s hand at full-time.

“I have not seen him. I don’t want to get into that, to be fair,” he said.

“If you ask me I am a British coach, I have been brought up in always shaking hands after games and showing respect and trying to win and lose with dignity.

“I am not saying he has not done that, you’ll have to ask him. If you ask me about what I will do, I will always shake hands.

“But I understand that elsewhere it is a bit different. That is how it is.”

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