Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez is set to join Chelsea in a £25 deal. With European football this season, the Seagulls will want at least two strong goalkeeping options but who could replace Robert Sanchez at Brighton?
Roberto De Zerbi still has Jason Steele at his disposal. The 32 year old was largely preferred to Sanchez by the Italian in the second half of last season having spent most of his Brighton career until that point warming the bench. De Zerbi was clearly a big fan of Steele’s ability with the ball at his feet as he invited the opposition press before finding a teammate with impressive accuracy.
That’s the skill set that Brighton were targeting in any Robert Sanchez replacement and they have already added one goalkeeper with those attributes this summer. De Zerbi has a distinctive style of football that requires his keepers to be far more than just a shot stopper. That’s typically the way of things in modern football in any case, but Brighton take things to another level with a huge importance placed on the ability to pass it out from the back.
Who could replace Robert Sanchez at Brighton? – Goalkeeping Options
Bart Verbruggen is SENSATIONAL with the ball at his feet… 👇 pic.twitter.com/Fx44lwcmRA
— Ryan (@ryanadsett) July 28, 2023
The most likely replacement for Robert Sanchez has already joined this summer. A reported fee of just over £16m secured the services of Bart Verbruggen from Anderlecht with De Zerbi claiming the Dutch youngster can be a “very important player for the club”.
The big question is whether or not that will be as early as this upcoming season. Verbruggen is only 20 years old which is very young for a goalkeeper, not to mention one in the strongest league in world football. He’s also very inexperienced in terms of top level football with only 24 league appearances for Anderlecht under his belt.
Most of those came last season when faith was ultimately placed in Verbruggen to be the first choice keeper. He also made 6 appearances in the UEFA Conference League as the Belgian club progressed to the Quarter Finals where they lost on penalties to AZ Alkmaar.
Unquestionably Bart Verbruggen is very talented but he is still raw. Brighton have not shied away from giving young talent opportunities in the past which suggests Roberto De Zerbi will have no problem utilising the keeper this season. The Dutch Under 21 international is very adept with the ball at his feet and was even included in the senior Dutch squad in March despite his very limited first team experience at that point.
Brighton do have one other goalkeeper on their books who looks most likely to be the third choice this season. That’s Canadian shot stopper Tom McGill. The 23 year old signed a new contract at the Amex Stadium in June that will keep him at the club until 2025 with the option of a further year.
Despite being born in Canada, McGill represented England at Under 17 level but has recently switched allegiance back to his native country and was part of Canada’s squad for the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has previously spent time on loan at the likes of Greenwich Borough, Basingstoke Town and Crawley Town but is yet to make his first team debut for Brighton.
A New Signing
It seems as though Brighton had always been planning for the departure of Robert Sanchez this summer when they brought in Bart Verbruggen. That makes it unlikely that the Seagulls will add another senior goalkeeper with De Zerbi clearly happy with Jason Steele who he recently tipped to earn an England call-up.
However given the inexperience of Verbruggen and McGill, there’s still an outside chance that a new goalkeeper could be brought in, particularly if on closer inspection in pre-season, De Zerbi concludes that Verbruggen still has flaws that need ironing out before he’s thrown into first team action.
There’s little suggestion that is the case, but Brighton could explore the option of a short-term deal for a more experienced keeper to provide cover for Steele during a busy season which will see them play in three cup competitions on top of their Premier League commitments. Likewise any loan deal for McGill, who is short on meaningful first team experience, could also see them target a fresh option in goal.
There are no strong rumours on that front currently, but a late move for goalkeeper in this transfer window cannot be completely ruled out.