• Izzy Brown and Brighton: Primed for Battle?

    20-year old Izzy Brown has played less than half an hour of Premier League football in his entire career, but the time could now be right for the West Bromwich academy graduate to finally become a genuine top flight player.

    Brown is already a highly decorated winger at youth level, with his litany of early silverware for Chelsea including two FA Youth Cups, an U21 Premier League title and a UEFA Youth League trophy. On the international stage, he was also part of the England squad that lifted the 2014 Under-17 European Championship. His winning mentality is, however, not solely consigned to youth level football. Just two months ago, he was a part of the Huddersfield squad that triumphed in the Championship promotion playoff final.

    The Amex will host Premier League football for the first time when Pep Guardiola’s mega-rich Manchester City side visit on 12 August. Image source: Flickr

    There is now a belief that Brighton could snatch Brown before another suitor can call, and it is a rumour that has been well-received by most Albion fans. With Chris Hughton’s squad in need of pace and youthful energy in the final third, Brown ticks all the boxes.

    It is a testament to Brighton & Hove Albion’s strong spirit that the club has finally managed to achieve promotion to the Premier League, after a number of recent playoff failures. Bookmakers are, however, amongst the biggest cynics when it comes to measuring Brighton’s chances of survival, with the Seagulls (as of 13 July 2017) priced at just 5/4 odds by betting sites to suffer instant relegation.

    Not yet a club that can attract the talents needed to make an assault on the top half of the table, Albion must (like Leicester did two years ago) focus on acquiring players that are at least hungry for establishment amongst the elite. The signing of Markus Suttner is one step in the right direction, but there is still much ground to cover before the Seagulls can even think of making a good fist of the fight to survive.

    Brown scores his first, and only, goal for Vitesse.

    Loan spells at Vitesse and Rotherham did little to advertise Brown as a potential future star, but these unremarkable spells only strengthened his resolve. In 2015/16, Vitesse finished ninth – just one win short of the eighth-place finish which would have seen the club qualify for the European qualification playoffs.

    At the start of last season, Brown was loaned to Rotherham. The Millers were the worst side in the EFL Championship by a considerable distance, yet Brown still managed to notch three goals from 20 appearances, before making a mid-season loan move to Huddersfield. It was with the Terriers that Brown finally showcased his capabilities, netting four goals in 15 appearances. He also made a good number of contributions from the wing as the Terriers held out for fifth place and subsequent playoff glory.

    Izzy Brown – the best of... for now.

    Although inexperienced in the Premier League, Brown’s pace would most certainly be an asset with a number of ageing players in the final third. Glenn Murray turns 34 in September, and whilst his 23-goal haul of 2016/17 indicated that he still has much to offer, the Premier League is a significant step up. Tomer Hemed has recently turned 30, and has never played in the Premier League.

    Albion will undoubtedly be faced with a lot of tough battles over the next ten months, and playing on the counter attack may prove to be a key weapon, by deploying long balls onto a quick player. In public at least, Hughton is not concerned at Albion's transfer activity to date, so Albion fans may have to be patient to see if Izzy Brown becomes one such outlet.