Brighton chief open to sale of Arsenal target

Brighton chief Paul Barber is very relaxed about the possibility of allowing midfielder Yves Bissouma to leave the club this summer.

Liverpool are not interested in the Mali international but he is among two central midfield targets mentioned in Arsenal reports.

Bissouma has been named along with Sheffield United’s Sander Berge as possible midfield options with Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi all set to leave this summer.

His price tag is likely to be around £40m but rather than putting off interest, Barber has welcomed speculation about the futures of Bissouma, Ben White and Tariq Lamptey.

The Seagulls ‘ record sale is still Anthony Knockaert at around £10m; Barber knows a club of their size should be developing players for profit and then reinvestment.

“I don’t see it as a negative at all,” he told The Athletic. “The more the big clubs that are interested in our players, the more we’re doing right, so I am delighted with that.

“We know some of our best players aren’t going to be with us forever and, if the right offer comes along – and it has to be the right offer – and they want to leave, then they can go.

“If we’ve got players leaving, then we’ve got back-up internally, and we can go out into the transfer market.

“We’re always looking ahead, we’re always trying to scout the best young players and bring them into our squad, or loan them out. It’s a really important part of what we do.”

Bissouma arrived for just £15m from Lille three years ago so Brighton will make a tidy profit if they can sell for £40m.

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Arsenal legend Ian Wright would be happy if Bissouma did not go to Liverpool as he feels the Brighton star would be better off at rivals Manchester United.

Speaking on his own podcast, Wright said earlier this month: “Bissouma’s making it clear now he wants to leave. Bissouma at Man Utd… that fits. He’s very good.

“You look at Bissouma, and he’s looking at Liverpool, we know that Liverpool have had their problems this season and you’ve got to choose between Liverpool and Man Utd in the current climate.

“I’m probably going to go with United. At the moment, yeah, because if we didn’t have the pandemic there’s certain things that’s going to happen where someone gets sold so they can finance [another signing].

“And what’s going on at Liverpool, there’s a lot of players getting into that 30 age bracket – Van Dijk, Henderson, the three guys up front.

“You think to yourself, ‘yeah Liverpool are magnificent with what they’ve done these last couple of years’. But you look at United and what United are on the cusp of doing, it’s a much more attractive proposition right now, much more.

“And I’m not being disrespectful to Liverpool, but it seems to me at Liverpool… where’s the funding?

“Like when they [sold] Coutinho to get everybody in, when they sold Suarez to get everybody in, where’s that funding coming from for Liverpool for them [potential signings] to say, ‘I can see what they are building’?

“You’ve got three unbelievable players [Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino] who are getting to a stage of their career where they’re like, ‘can I go to Real Madrid?’… no, it’s not looking as attractive, with all due respect to Liverpool.”


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