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Brighton logo
Premier League | Gameweek 26
Feb 24, 2024 at 3pm UK
The American Express Community Stadium
Everton logo

1 - 1

Dunk (90+5')
De Zerbi (54'), Paul van Hecke (70'), Gross (73')
Gilmour (81')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Branthwaite (73')
Tarkowski (33'), Beto (90+1'), Onana (90+2')

Brighton's Roberto De Zerbi provides update on Valentin Barco availability

Brighton's De Zerbi provides update on Barco availability
© Reuters
Brighton & Hove Albion boss Roberto De Zerbi admits that it is "difficult to understand" when January signing Valentin Barco will be ready to be considered for first-team selection.

Brighton & Hove Albion head coach Roberto De Zerbi has admitted that it is "difficult to understand" when January signing Valentin Barco will be ready to be considered for first-team selection.

The Seagulls fended off strong competition from a number of top European clubs to win the race for the 19-year-old's signature during the winter transfer window.

Brighton allegedly triggered the $10m (Β£7.9m) release clause in Barco's contract at Boca Juniors and the youngster has penned a four-and-a-half-year deal until June 2028.

Barco arrived in Brighton for the first time just over a week ago after helping Argentina Under-23s qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

The versatile left-sided player, who can operate as either a left-back or left-winger, began first-team training with his new Seagulls teammates earlier this week, but it remains to be seen when he will be ready to make his debut.

Barco was not involved in the matchday squad for last weekend's 5-0 Premier League victory at Sheffield United, and De Zerbi has remained tight-lipped over whether the teenager could be involved in Saturday's home encounter with Everton.

Speaking about Barco at a press conference on Friday, De Zerbi said: "It's difficult to know if he's ready [to play] or not. It's very tough for young players who come from different countries.

"We have to give him a lot of time to understand the new country, the new football and the different style of play."

Barco himself is excited to fulfil his dream of representing a Premier League club and hopes that he can quickly adapt to the demands of English football.

"I'm very happy that I have taken the step to come and play in the Premier League, the best league in the world. I'm very happy," Barco told Brighton's official website.

"The club showed a lot of interest in me. It's an amazing club and there are a lot of young players here and lots of South Americans too. That's why I came here.

"It is always great to have Argentinians or South Americans in the team as it helps you adapt quickly. I spoke to Alexis [Mac Allister] and he wished me the very best of luck here. I'm very happy.

"Facundo [Buonanotte] told me it was an amazing club with a lot of young players and that the manager is very good. I hope to adapt as quickly as possible so I'm able to play soon.

"I was nine when I arrived at Boca and I was there for ten years. In the last few years I was playing for the first team. I was there for a long time and I am very grateful to the club and fans and very happy that I was able to make this step.

"I didn't watch it a lot, but the Premier League has always been the best in the world. Everyone there dreamed of playing in the Premier League.

"I have fulfilled that dream and I hope to adapt as quickly as possible."

Meanwhile, De Zerbi has confirmed that Kaoru Mitoma is doubtful with an injury unrelated to the nasty challenge from Sheffield United's Mason Holgate last weekend.

Julio Enciso is available to return to the matchday squad after several months out with a knee injury, but Joao Pedro still needs between two to four weeks to recover from a hamstring injury.

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Boca Juniors' Valentin Barco during training on November 3, 2023
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