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Brighton’s Newest Gem

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The last time Brighton played with Leandro Trossard, the best player in their ranks, was on December 31. The next day the winter transfer window and Arsenal chasing the Belgian. Manager Roberto de Zerbi didn’t play him ever again. However, this hasn’t affected the team, and they have gone on to pick up 10 points from four games. Part of the reason why they haven’t suffered has been the rise of an 18-year-old striker named Evan Ferguson.

The youngster who was signed a year ago by the Seagulls from Irish club Bohemians and was seen as a future prospect but has now been thrown straight into the deep end, and he has not only survived but thrived at the top level.

The Irishman represents the brilliance of Brighton’s recruitment policy which has unearthed several top players when they were very young and unheard of. His emergence, coupled with the money received from Trossard’s sale, will allow the club to invest money in other more critical areas and ensure the quality of the team does not go down, and they continue to compete at the highest level.

But who is Evan Ferguson, and how good is he?

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Playing career so far 

Evan Joe Ferguson was born on October 19, 2004, in Bettystown, Ireland. Ferguson was interested in football from the start because his father, Barry, was a professional footballer and played his career for clubs such as Coventry City, Colchester, Northampton, Longford, and Shamrock Rovers.

Evan started his career at St Kevin’s Boys, one of Ireland’s best football schools. However, he soon left for Bohemians FC, a club where his father also played. Here he would shine for the youth teams, which caught the eyes of then manager Keith Long who immediately called him to the senior squad. 

And at the age of 14, he played in a match against Chelsea in a friendly on July 11, 2019. He made five appearances that season. This meant that clubs were now starting to take notice of his talent, and in the 2021 winter transfer window, he was snapped by Brighton, who beat stiff competition from Liverpool to sign him.

In his first six months at the club, Ferguson would play for both the under-18s and under-23s, making 13 appearances scoring three goals and providing one assist. However, his rise was so rapid that from the following season, the club promoted him full-time to the under-21s and also gave him several matches with the senior team. His first team debut came against Cardiff City in Carabao Cup in August 2021.

He was named in the squad for the Premier League match against Wolverhampton Wanderer in December 2021. However, he was an unused substitute and would only take the field in the match against Burnley in February 2022.

Evan Ferguson stats 

Evan Ferguson ended the season with ten goals, eight of which came in Premier League 2. This season his trajectory was going the same as the team thought of giving him another season of under-21s with limited appearances in the senior squad. However, the transfer situation of Leandro Trossard forced Roberto de Zerbi to call all hands on deck.

This has meant that Ferguson has played in every match in the senior squad since December 26, barring the February 4 clash against Bournemouth. And during this period, Ferguson has amassed only 198 minutes but has still managed to score three goals and provide two assists. This gives him an incredible goal involvement every 39 minutes, one of the best in the Premier League. 

What is more incredible is that these stats have not come in a bunch and have come across four matches showing his consistency, even in the short run.

Evan Ferguson scout report 

When he was at Bohemians, Ferguson was being chased by both Liverpool and Brighton but chose the Seagulls because he knew he would get more game time at the club, allowing him better prospects to get a crack in the senior team. This shows how confident he is about his skills and also reflects he does not shy away from taking risks.

This risk-taking ability is one of the chief reasons for his incredible rise. On top of that, his 6ft 2-inch frame helps him dominate the opponent physically. It was evident in their 4-2 loss, where he brushed off William Saliba, one of the most in-form defenders in the league and scored his maiden goal in the league.

While he has ample pace, Ferguson uses his intelligence more to place him in advantageous positions to exploit the opposition’s defence. There are weaknesses to his game, such as his ability to shoot at the first sight of the goals=, but we must remember he is only 18 and is in his debut season, where he has been slotted into the team due to the departure of Trossard. 

We can better gauge his skills when he will have an entire pre-season under his belt with the senior team.

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What makes him special 

When he played against Everton in the Premier League, Evan Ferguson created two records. His goal in the 51st minute made him the youngest player since Federico Macheda in 2009. And just three minutes later, his assist for Solly March made him the youngest player to score a goal and provide an assist in the same match since Michael Owen in 1997. 

This shows how special and rare of a talent he is. While Macheda didn’t reach the highs expected of him, Michael Owen did that. In addition, at no point in his senior career has Ferguson looked out of place or has been fazed by the occasion. 

And for someone to do this at such a young age in the Premier League is a rare sight to behold.

Evan Ferguson potential and transfer news

Evan Ferguson is only 18, and in the hands of a manager like Roberto de Zerbi, he could become an elite Premier League marksman. Ferguson will also help Brighton save a lot of money which is the reason they would want to tie him down to an improved contract with a massive release clause to fend off interest from top clubs who are bound to come for him.

In his entire career, he has been thrown into several uncomfortable situations where he has survived and thrived. This has made his self-belief so strong that he has been able to adapt to any situation. 

At the top level of football, mental fortitude is as necessary as physical skills and talent. Fortunately for Ferguson and he has got both in spades. Back in December, Brighton threw in a ‘sink or swim’ situation. Turns out Evan Ferguson is an excellent swimmer.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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