Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi has admitted he cannot guarantee Moises Caicedo will stay at the club in January following a £55million offer from Chelsea, with the Italian claiming ‘next summer’ would be a better time for him to move.
The Ecuador international has been the subject of strong interest from Chelsea and Liverpool as the underperforming sides seek to strengthen the centre of their respective midfields.
Chelsea have tested Brighton with an initial offer of £55million, with the Blues turning their attentions to Caicedo after failing in their pursuit of the £112million-rated Benfica star Enzo Fernandez.
De Zerbi was asked about Chelsea’s pursuit of Caicedo, with the Italian acknowledging he could not guarantee the midfield star will remain at the Amex Stadium this month.
‘He is very important for us, it would be difficult to change with another player now,’ De Zerbi said.
‘I hope he finishes the season with us, but you know in the transfer market it is always difficult to give you one answer.
‘When there are some bigger teams and they want one of our players, it is good news for us.
‘The best solution for us is he can finish the season with us.
‘Next summer, for him, is better to change team.’
De Zerbi was asked whether he thought the 21-year-old will leave the Seagulls in the summer.
The Italian suggested a move could be possible, but insisted Caicedo would need to maintain his performance levels for Brighton.
‘I don’t know,’ De Zerbi said. But if Caicedo continues to play like this – like the last games – it is possible he can leave for another team.’
Caicedo, who joined Brighton in February 2021, has three years left on his contract at the Amex.
Chelsea have identified Caicedo as a possible replacement for N’Golo Kante, who has been a long-term injury absentee this season.
The Blues are expected to lose Jorginho in the summer, with the Italian’s contract running down.
Graham Potter had claimed £42million might get Caicedo’s boots back in September, before leaving Brighton to take charge of Chelsea.
Chelsea have embarked on a significant transfer spree since since Todd Boehly took Chelsea off Roman Abramovich.
The £88m signing of Mykhailo Mudryk took Chelsea’s transfer spending to a record level in Premier League history, at £445million surpassing the £328million spent by Manchester City in 2017-18.
The Blues are expected to complete the signing of England under-21 international Noni Madueke from PSV for £29million, as the club seek to revitalise their season with Potter’s side currently lying 10th in the Premier League.
Brighton are currently seventh in the Premier League despite selling Marc Cucurella to Chelsea for £62millon in the summer, while the club are also set to sell Leandro Trossard to Arsenal for £27million.