Exclusive: Brighton hold talks with Russell Martin amid Roberto de Zerbi uncertainty

Jacque Talbot
Jacque Talbot
  • Updated: 9 Apr 2024 09:52 BST
  • 4 min read
Russell Martin, Brighton

Brighton are targeting Russell Martin as a replacement for Roberto De Zerbi, who is almost certain to leave the Amex at the end of the season, FootballTransfers can reveal.

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The Seagulls engaged in discussions with the highly-rated Southampton coach over the international break, but nothing has been decided or finalised at this point.

The former Norwich defender is a Brighton native and played in the South Coast side's youth academy. After earning his coaching spurs with MK Dons and Swansea, Martin took charge of relegated Southampton last summer and the Saints currently sit in fourth in the Championship.

Current Brighton boss De Zerbi is being monitored by Liverpool to take over at Anfield from Jurgen Klopp, but we can confirm that the Reds are huge fans of Sporting CP’s Ruben Amorim as well.

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De Zerbi has also been associated with the Bayern Munich job and Barcelona, though FootballTransfers recently reported that Xavi could yet make a spectacular U-turn.

In any case, Brighton have started to put things in place to ensure a swift appointment is made before the beginning of the summer transfer window.

Roberto de Zerbi
© IMAGO - Roberto de Zerbi

Brighton aim for Undav return

Furthermore, FootballTransfers can reveal that Brighton will definitely insist on Deniz Undav's return from his successful Stuttgart loan despite the Bundesliga side having the option to purchase the striker.

The Seagulls believe that Undav is good enough to play a role next season after notching 16 goals and eight assists this term. He would act as a replacement for Ansu Fati, who will head back to Barcelona in the summer. Brighton are looking to entice Undav with significant guarantees of game time.

Both the striker and Stuttgart have made it clear that they intend to extend their relationship beyond the current season, but the potential fee has thus far proved to be the main stumbling block.

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If Stuttgart qualify for the Champions League, which is looking increasingly likely, they will have to pay as much as €20m for the newly minted German international. This would shatter the club's transfer record and it is unclear whether spending this type of money is financially viable.

Head coach Sebastian Hoeness recently insisted that he is confident that Undav will stay in Swabia and said of the 27-year-old: "There are no two opinions about it from my side. Deniz is an absolute top player who is having a great season. I have a good relationship with him, he's an intelligent player who scores and sets up goals."

However, behind the scenes, it increasingly looks as though Undav will be playing his football at the Amex next season.

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