Brighton boss De Zerbi to leave at end of season

Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi will leave the Premier League club by mutual consent after their final game of the season against Manchester United on Sunday.

De Zerbi took charge at the Amex Stadium in September 2022 and led Brighton to their highest ever top-flight finish when they came sixth in 2022-23.

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“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,” Brighton chairman Tony Bloom said on Saturday.

“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.”

The Italian, previously in charge at Shakhtar Donetsk, earned widespread admiration after taking Brighton into Europe for the first time in their history, advancing to the Europa League last 16 before losing to Roma 4-1 on aggregate.

But the Seagulls struggled to replicate that fine form during an injury-plagued campaign that will peter out with a mid-table finish after Sunday’s match against United.

“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,” De Zerbi said.

“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.”

De Zerbi had been linked with replacing Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool before Feyenoord boss Arne Slot confirmed he will move to Anfield in the close-season.

The 44-year-old is reported to be the top choice for the Bayern Munich job, with Thomas Tuchel leaving the German giants at the end of the season.

‘An intense two years’ 

Bayern have failed with moves for Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso and Austria coach Ralf Rangnick, while their former manager Hansi Flick is another potential candidate.

De Zerbi, hired to replace Graham Potter after his move to Chelsea, was reportedly frustrated by Brighton’s philosophy of developing young players and then selling them at a significant profit.

Moises Caicedo, Leandro Trossard, Marc Cucurella, Alexis Mac Allister and Robert Sanchez were among the stars who left Brighton to join bigger clubs in De Zerbi’s reign.

De Zerbi is believed to feel he could not take Brighton any further without being able to keep his best players.

“I have really enjoyed an intense and challenging two years working in the Premier League, not least competing in four major competitions this season,” he said.

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

Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna is believed to be high on Brighton’s list of candidates to replace De Zerbi.

McKenna has led Ipswich into the Premier League after successive promotions from League One and the Championship.

“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 said.

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