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De Zerbi to leave Brighton after Man United game

Head coach Roberto de Zerbi will leave Brighton after their final Premier League match of the season at home to Manchester United on Sunday.

Chairman Tony Bloom said the Premier League club and De Zerbi “have mutually agreed” that the Italian will depart.

Former Shakhtar Donetsk coach De Zerbi, 44, joined the Seagulls in September 2022 on a four-year contract.

Brighton finished sixth last season, with the club’s highest ever top-flight finish securing European qualification for the first time in their history.

“Roberto has given us two excellent seasons of service in which he has led the club to new heights, not least our first ever European campaign which will live long in the memory of Albion fans,” said Bloom.

“We have mutually agreed to end Roberto’s contract at a time that suits both parties allowing us the earliest opportunity to plan for next season, and Roberto plenty of time to consider his next move and his future.”

BBC Sport understands that one manager on Brighton’s list to replace De Zerbi is likely to be Kieran McKenna, who has just won promotion to the Premier League with Ipswich Town.

Brighton enjoyed Europa League wins over Ajax, Marseille and AEK Athens this season to top their group before being knocked out in the last 16 by Roma.

They are 10th in the Premier League before their final game on Sunday and can finish no higher in the table.

“I am sure our fans will give Roberto and his staff a wonderful and fully deserved send off at the Amex before, during and after tomorrow’s match,” Bloom added.

“In the meantime, I’d like to thank Roberto and his staff for all their hard work in the past two seasons. They all leave our club on good terms and with our very best wishes for the future.”

De Zerbi was appointed after Graham Potter left for Chelsea and Brighton have since sold the likes of Leandro Trossard, Alexis Mac Allister, Robert Sanchez and Moises Caicedo for a combined total of more than £200m.

“We have agreed to end my time at Brighton so that the club and I can continue to work in the way that suits each of us best, following our own ideas and visions, as well as our work and human values,” said De Zerbi.

“Leaving now provides me with time to take a break before deciding on my future plans.

“I am very sad to be leaving Brighton, but I am very proud of what my players and staff have achieved with the support of everyone at the club and our amazing fans in the past two historical seasons.”

Seven members of De Zerbi’s coaching staff will also leave but first-team coach Andrew Crofts and goalkeeper coach Stern will remain with the club.

Analysis by BBC Sport’s chief football news reporter Simon Stone

It was only on Wednesday that my extensive interview with Brighton chief executive Paul Barber was published.

It included the following key quote about De Zerbi and the Brighton ‘model’.

“He understands what our limitations are. Behind the scenes, our model is very well known to him. We won’t break that model for anyone.”

The model has taken Brighton from the depths of the Football League and into Europe. Owner Tony Bloom is clear sighted and has a vision in which he sees the club as ‘top 10’ material. They may achieve that this season.

But Brighton is Bloom’s long-term project. Barber has just signed a contract to 2030.

Brighton are refusing to say what triggered today’s announcement but you only have to read their statement for the biggest clue.

“We have agreed to end my time at Brighton so that the club and I can continue to work in the way that suits each of us best, following our own ideas and visions.”

So, either De Zerbi has no faith in the project or, more likely, he is not convinced it will deliver on his aspirations quickly enough.

Burnley boss Vincent Kompany was linked with Brighton last month. Ipswich counterpart Kieran McKenna is bound to be on their radar. Interestingly, former Brighton boss Graham Potter has just turned down Ajax.

Source: BBC

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