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Brighton & Hove Albion sign Carlos Baleba from Lille

Brighton & Hove Albion sign Carlos Baleba from Lille

Brighton & Hove Albion have announced the signing of highly rated Cameroonian prospect Carlos Baleba from Ligue 1 club Lille.

Although the transfer fee remains undisclosed by the club, the 19-year-old is believed to have cost the Seagulls around €27 million.

Baleba becomes the sixth addition to Roberto De Zerbi’s talent-rich squad and replaces Moises Caicedo, who departed for Chelsea in a mega-money deal over the summer.

The defensive midfielder, who is yet to make his international debut for Cameroon, came through the youth ranks at Lille.

He was only afforded the chance to link up with the first team at the start of the last season but wasted no time establishing himself as an eye-catching prospect.

Baleba featured in 19 competitive games in the French top flight last term, although he only made his way into Paulo Fonseca’s starting line-up five times.

He contributed two assists when handed a chance to impress, but his defensive metrics were hugely impressive for a player making his debut in the top flight.

Baleba only averaged 22.8 touches per 90, but those statistics are expected to increase exponentially when featuring for Brighton, who are a more possession-hungry side.

His 76% long-ball accuracy tells the tale of a player who is comfortable dictating play from the base of midfield and should come in handy for Brighton when a more direct approach is required.

Baleba is sturdy enough to become a key player under De Zerbi’s tutelage, having averaged 0.7 tackles per 90 and completed 63% of his attempted dribbles.

De Zerbi has previously mentioned that his side would have to adapt their style of play to accommodate Caicedo’s departure. 

However, Baleba’s arrival should help cushion the blow, and his on-the-ball ability could be vital to Brighton in the build-up phase.

While he doesn’t have Caicedo’s eye-watering numbers, Baleba has all the makings of an excellent holding midfielder and could prove to be a like-for-like replacement for his Ecuadorian counterpart.

Brighton are yet to finalise their business on the transfer market, with the Seagulls still working on a deal for Bayer Leverkusen forward Amine Adli.

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