One thing you can say about our transfer business is that it’s very deliberate and considered. There’s no splashing out on a manager’s whims anymore, and our recruitment is targeted and fits in with the overall direction of the club.
With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look back to last summer to see who we were linked with, and whether it’s likely that we’ll be back in for any of those players this summer.
Looking back, it’s interesting, as there were a number of players mentioned who clearly don’t fit our ‘model’, and knowing what transpired, it’s more likely that players such as Craig Forsyth, Tom Barkhuizen, John Ruddy, Robbie Brady, Joel Robles and Ravel Morrison were attracting the interest of Alex Neil rather than Kristjaan Speakman.
However, there were a number of players who are much more in line with the transfer policy we’ve subsequently seen in action – and that we could revisit over the coming months.
Jan Paul van Hecke
Brighton’s Dutch centre back spent the 2021/2022 season on loan at Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn and seemed nailed on for a loan move to the Stadium of Light before Alex Neil’s departure.
He ended up staying at the Amex Stadium last season, and made his full debut in January. He’s just turned twenty three, and Brighton triggered a one year extension to his contract, which was due to expire. However, he’s admitted that he could leave the south coast club in the summer, and wants a permanent move, rather than another loan.
He said: “For other clubs, it’s now also becoming interesting, because I’ll be relatively cheap to take over. It’ll probably be another transfer window in which I am glued to the phone.”
With seemingly little appetite to extend his stay at Brighton, this is one that could well happen.
Young Irish midfielder Kelly was linked with a move to Sunderland before joining West Ham in July. He’s been a regular in the Hammers’ Under 18’s team and is also rumoured to be on the verge of a Northern Ireland call up.
Given his young age, I wouldn’t expect us to go for a loan deal and as he’s only a year into a three-year contract, a permanent move will probably be out of the question for now.
This is one we may revisit next summer if he’s no closer to a first team spot.
United States international striker Hoppe was heavily linked with us last summer but headed down the A19 to Teesside, where he found football hard to come by, only making six appearances for the Boro before heading off on loan to Lee Johnson’s Hibs.
He played fairly regularly for Schalke two years ago, followed by a season at Mallorca before moving to England and at twenty two, he needs to make an impression next season.
He’s a 6ft 3in striker, has played for the States, and will surely want more action this term. He’s one I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we went in for, but only on a permanent deal.
AFC Wimbledon’s star man was another player who was repeatedly linked with Sunderland last summer before eventually signing for Huddersfield.
It looked like a better move for him on paper in joining the beaten playoff finalists, but things in West Yorkshire unravelled quickly. However, Rudoni was a key member of the team, playing forty five times.
A 6ft 1in central midfielder, he’s likely to be on our radar again, and at twenty one with good experience, he fits the bill perfectly – although his acquisition could be pricey.
Parrott was another player we seemed to be on the verge of signing last summer – on loan from Spurs - but he joined Preston North End instead.
He had a decent spell at Deepdale, winning plaudits for his hard work and all-round play rather than his goalscoring. Three in twenty nine league games is hardly what Spurs would’ve been hoping for, but it was in line with his goal return from previous loan spells.
With Spurs having changed manager, it could be that the twenty one year-old is moved on in the summer, and having tracked him for a while, it wouldn’t surprise me if we tried to sign permanently. His former teammates Dennis Cirkin and Jack Clarke could help make the difference.
The former Carlisle centre back is another who’s well known to Mowbray, having played under him while on loan from Everton to Blackburn.
The 6ft 5in left-sided defender spent last season on loan at PSV Eindhoven, and helped the club win the Dutch Cup against Ajax. He’s just been called up for England’s Under 21’s, and I think Everton will be wanting to keep him at the club.
However he’s admitted that he’d be open to staying permanently at PSV, and a full season of football will likely have whetted his appetite for regular football, which he’s unlikely to get at Goodison.
With Aji Alese, Danny Batth, Dan Ballard, Joe Anderson and Luke O’Nien already in contention for a central defensive berth, I can’t envisage us strengthening our defence with a loan deal, but if Branthwaite becomes available for a permanent switch, I’m certain that we’ll make a move.
Smallbone joined Stoke on loan from Southampton and impressed in the Potteries, scoring three goals in forty three games.
He had a good game for Stoke at the Stadium of Light but after Southampton’s relegation, it seems likely that the Saints will give Smallbone a chance at St Mary’s this coming season.
The Leeds centre back joined up with Millwall in pre-season despite having allegedly been in attendance at one of our friendlies with a view to signing on loan.
With that one, I suspect we shelved a loan deal when Aji Alese became available for a permanent move.
Cresswell did well at Millwall, starring in their defence and scoring four goals, but following Leeds’ relegation, he’s more likely to stick around at his parent club, although the pending takeover in West Yorkshire could change all of that.
Another Brighton player who had a spell under Mowbray at Blackburn, wide attacker Khedra was linked with a move to Sunderland before joining up with Sheffield United.
He didn’t get much of a look in at Bramall Lane, with the Blades operating without wingers, and joined Birmingham on loan in January. He impressed for the Blues, and did well against us in April.
According to Brighton’s website, his contract expires this summer, so that could certainly be one to watch as we look for Amad’s replacement.
We were linked with a move for Bellingham last summer, who at that point had made a couple of league appearances for Birmingham.
Last season was a bit of a breakthrough campaign, and he made a further twenty two appearances, including starting against us at St Andrews and appearing as a substitute in the reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light.
With strong links between Kristjaan Speakman, Mike Dodds and the Bellingham family, rumours of another move came as little surprise, and apparently all that needs to happen now is to reach an agreement on the fee.