Over the course of the last few years, Brighton has honed their reputation for sourcing hidden gems in lesser-scoured areas of the transfer market before turning them into coveted assets capable of turning the club a big profit.
In January alone, Arsenal did business with the Seagulls for striker Leandro Trossard and then tried to persuade chairman Tony Bloom to part ways with Moises Caicedo for more than £60 million. While the Ecuador midfielder was blocked from moving and later signed a new contract, it feels inevitable that a high-profile move to a big-hitting club will happen in due course.
The question asked by many football fans is why more clubs aren’t following the approach taken by Brighton’s innovative CEO Tony Bloom. It was one that was also posed to Mikel Arteta ahead of Sunday’s clash with the south coast outfit at Emirates Stadium.
“You cannot replicate,” said the Spaniard. “The model that Brighton has is great for Brighton. We cannot have the same model, we have to have a different model.
“I’m sure there are things we can apply to our model that they do extremely well but it’s a different model, they have different demands, they have a different size of club, probably a different approach as well. It will be a mistake in my opinion to do that.”
That said, there’s no denying that Arteta is impressed by the Brighton operation.
“Incredible,” was his assessment of their development in recent years. “They have a really clear vision, they’ve been ahead of many other clubs in the way they have handled and the way they’ve made decisions, the way they have developed players, the way they have recruited talent, the way they have settled the club.
“The people and the persons they recruit as well, really impressive. I think they’ve done really well.”
In Arteta’s opinion the rise of Brighton and clubs like them, including Brentford – another club run by a CEO with connections to the gambling industry – have helped take the Premier League to another level.
“The level of every organisation at every level is much better than it was before,” said the Arsenal manager.
“The level of the players, the level of the staff, the level of the coaches, physically it’s much more demanding, every detail, every phase of play is dominated in the right way by every opponent and that makes the game really fascinating.
‘There are a lot of things that can go your way or not go your way because of small margins; this is the Premier League right now for every team.”
In November, a much-changed Arsenal were beaten 3-1 at home by Brighton in the Carabao Cup. The Gunners then went to the Amex Stadium on New Year’s Eve and registered a very impressive 4-2 win, although it could easily have ended in a draw.
Those two games serve as a timely reminder that Sunday’s match is a potential banana skin for Arteta whose side is looking to keep up the pressure on Manchester City in the title race.
“For sure and because they are a really complicated side,” he said.
“They are playing well, Roberto [De Zerbi] and the coaching staff, what they’ve done is just remarkable, it’s just a joy to watch them play and what they’ve brought to the league is a different idea and different challenges for managers as well.
“This is what you want, we want to be the best league in the world, the best managers and the best players and what he’s done with the team after all the foundations that Graham left at the club as well, it’s incredible. A very tough match.”