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Brighton have been busy this summer. They’ve brought in a hefty nine players so far, more than any other club in the Premier League at time of writing.
One of the latest is Yves Bissouma, a 21-year-old midfielder signed from Lille on a five-year deal for an undisclosed fee – thought to be around £15million.
In just two years, the Mali international racked up 47 league appearances for the French side, as well as 15 caps for his nation. At such a young age, having that much game-time is impressive.
The midfielder has a wide-ranging skill-set. His Football Whispers persona radar, which characterises players by their statistical traits, shows his game was heavily defined by build-up play, defending, and shooting, making Bissouma a valuable addition on and off the ball for the Seagulls.
Competition for places might be tough, but Brighton didn’t rotate much last season, with Dale Stephens and Davy Pröpper picking up more than 30 appearances each in central midfield, with Pascal Groß generally playing alongside or just in front of them.
Brighton coach Chris Hughton will have a plan in mind. They’re a club who do their research on players before signing them. It's that approach which enables them to pick up smart bargains like Groß who cost just £3million and boasted an expected goal contribution (xG + xA) of 9.92 last season – the fourth-highest among Premier League midfielders.
Bissouma has evidently done his own research on his new club. “I chatted with quite a lot of people who advised me it’s [the Premier League] a good league for my progression, and it's good to join a club like Brighton who know what they want, an ambitious club,” he told the club's website.
“I wanted to come and show what I can do in the Premier League and help the team move forward.”
Brighton will certainly be hoping he can. He made a whopping 5.77 tackles plus interceptions per 90 minutes in Ligue 1 last season, his 3.89 tackles per 90 the second-highest rate out of all the midfielders in the league.
One thing he could work on is his shot choice. He took 42 shots in the league last season, but they were only worth 1.78 expected goals, meaning that his average shot had just a four percent chance of going in.
Still, he'll be a boost for Brighton's midfield, and he's a player used to working hard to succeed, having left home at 13 to join the JMG Academy in Mali.
“Leaving your parents at that age isn’t easy,” he told Brighton's website. “With time and the experience of life you get, I understood that I had to forget about missing them and to concentrate on my work.
“At that stage, my dream was to become a professional footballer but I didn’t really know where that would be.
“I was only 13. I dreamed of playing in a big club and slowly but surely I’ve got there.”
Like Brighton in the Premier League, the task now facing Bissouma is staying there.