In our Transfers that shook the club feature, Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at deals that had many may not have seen coming and the impact that they had during their time by using statistical data and pundit remarks.
Since their promotion to the Premier League in 2017, Brighton have not been reluctant to pay unprecedented transfer fees for attackers who they felt could thrive in England’s top flight. Jurgen Locadia, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Leandro Trossard have all arrived at the Amex Stadium for fees of more than £15m in the last three years (as per TransferMarkt).
Still, it may have come as a surprise when they parted with £20m, a joint club record outlay, to sign Brentford striker Neal Maupay just over a year ago. Even though the Frenchman had struck 25 goals for the Bees in the previous Championship season, his record at top-flight level did not make for encouraging reading – 59 appearances in Ligue 1 had yielded a paltry seven goals.
The microscope would firmly be on him to deliver after Brighton’s expensive show of faith but he got off to an ideal start, netting on his debut in a 3-0 win at Watford. He added six more to his tally by Christmas and picked his moments well, with decisive late goals against Everton and Arsenal, as well as the opener in an M23 derby draw at Selhurst Park.
Maupay hit a barren patch following mid-December, with only one goal in 11 league games prior to the season’s shutdown in March. However, he returned with a vengeance post-lockdown, again being the scourge of Arsenal by netting a stoppage time winner at the Amex Stadium. He had earlier elicited controversy in that game when he clashed with Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno, causing a season-ending injury to the German in the process.
The Frenchman’s strike against Southampton last month took him into double figures in his first Premier League season, although it wasn’t just the tally itself which stood out. Maupay’s 10 league goals were responsible for gaining 11 points for Brighton, with only two of those 10 not proving decisive. Without that contribution, the Seagulls would only have claimed 30 points and been relegated.
Has Neal Maupay exceeded your initial expectations at Brighton?
Incredibly, he hasn’t scored multiple goals in one game so far for Albion – instead, he has delivered repeated singular doses, often at a time of considerable need for Graham Potter’s side.
The Frenchman, who turned 24 yesterday, was signed with a brief to score the goals to maintain Brighton’s status as a Premier League club, even though his Ligue 1 record left a lot to be desired. If there were doubts over his transfer fee or his ability to perform in England’s top flight, those have surely been dispelled now.
Brighton fans, did you think the Seagulls paid over the odds for Maupay at the time of his signing? Do you feel he has since justified his £20m fee? Have your say by commenting below!
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