In the shadows of the spotlight that often shines on big-name signings and star players, there still exists some hidden gems within Brighton & Hove Albion’s academy.
The club are usually known for their astute overseas signings and smart business but what many forget is the homegrown talent coming straight through the academy here in Brighton. And, amidst the buzz surrounding highly regarded manager, Roberto De Zerbi and on the back of huge on-field success, the careers and potential of Odel Offiah, James Beadle, and Andrew Moran have quietly been taking shape.
These young talents, often overlooked by the mainstream discourse, have been honing their skills behind the scenes and slowly cracking their way into the first team could be the ones to watch for the future of Brighton.
Brighton, with these stars, hope to continue the trend of successful academy products and will hope to continue to showcase their unwavering ability to spot and nurture future talents.
While Evan Ferguson and Robert Sanchez have recently made significant strides in the first team, there are three more promising young players from the Amex Stadium’s production line that have caught my attention. In this article, I delve into their intriguing journeys and promising futures of the rising stars within the club’s ranks:
Odel Offiah has been making steady strides in his development and has caught the attention of manager Roberto De Zerbi. Despite not possessing the explosive speed that his famous uncle, Martin Offiah, was known for during his illustrious rugby league career, Odel Offiah has shown significant potential and promise in his performances. His journey at Brighton began in 2017 when he joined the club on a scholarship deal and has progressed through the ranks since then.
Offiah’s first taste of senior football came in August 2021 during a Carabao Cup match against Cardiff City, where he made his debut as a substitute. Five months later, he earned his first start in a 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup. Although his appearance was cut short due to an ankle injury, Offiah’s progress and dedication were recognized when he was awarded his first professional contract in January 2022, which extends until next summer.
The 20-year-old defender’s potential and versatility have impressed De Zerbi, who sees him as a valuable asset in the team. Offiah’s calm disposition and athletically built physique make him well-suited to the right-back position, although he is also capable of playing in the center of defense. With the possibility of experienced right-back Joel Veltman’s future at the club becoming uncertain and the potential departure of Tariq Lamptey due to injury, Offiah’s development and contribution become even more vital for Brighton.
Offiah draws inspiration from Pascal Gross, a midfield stalwart for the club, whom he regards as his idol. Observing Gross’s dedication and work ethic has motivated Offiah to strive for excellence and make his mark at Brighton. As he continues to progress, Offiah’s technical skills, defensive abilities, and positional awareness will be important assets in De Zerbi’s system, which emphasizes tactical discipline and possession-based football.
Brighton’s strong reputation for identifying and nurturing young talent through their academy has been a consistent aspect of the club’s ethos. Offiah’s development is yet another testament to this commitment, and his journey from the academy to the first team reflects the club’s emphasis on providing opportunities for talented individuals to flourish.
With the guidance of De Zerbi and the support of his teammates, Offiah has the potential to make a significant impact at Brighton. As he continues to mature and refine his skills, his versatility and dedication will make him an important asset in Brighton’s quest for success in the Premier League.
James Beadle has shown promising potential as a goalkeeper. Following a pathway similar to that of Robert Sanchez and Carl Rushworth, Beadle has been loaned out to gain valuable experience and further his development. The 18-year-old spent last season at Crewe Alexandra in League Two and will now embark on a loan spell at Oxford United in League One for the forthcoming season.
Standing at an impressive 6 feet 3 inches, Beadle has showcased his all-round abilities during his time on the field. Despite his loan spell being cut short due to an ankle injury, he managed to keep three clean sheets in nine games, which speaks volumes about his shot-stopping prowess and command of the goal. These performances caught the attention of the England selectors, leading to his inclusion in the Under-20 World Cup squad held in Argentina. Beadle made his debut in a goalless draw against Iraq in the group stage, demonstrating his composure and ability to handle high-pressure situations.
One notable strength of Beadle is his comfort with the ball at his feet, which aligns well with De Zerbi’s style of play that emphasizes building from the back and possession-based football. His technical skills and distribution abilities allow him to contribute to the team’s build-up play and initiate attacks from the defensive third.
However, as with any young player, there are areas for improvement. Beadle’s age and relative lack of experience mean there is still room to refine his decision-making and overall game management. As he continues to mature and gain more exposure to competitive football, he will have the opportunity to develop these aspects of his game.
In De Zerbi’s system, which values goalkeepers who are comfortable with the ball at their feet, Beadle has the potential to be a good fit. His technical abilities and composure under pressure make him well-suited to the style of play the manager encourages. With his next loan at Oxford United, Beadle will have the opportunity to further enhance his skills and adapt to the demands of senior football, preparing him for a potential role in Brighton’s first team in the future.
Andrew Moran has recently signed a long-term contract, securing his future with the club until 2027. Despite limited game time at the senior level, Moran has already made his Premier League debut and showcased his potential as a standout performer in the Premier League 2, contributing seven goals and four assists for Brighton’s youth team.
Moran’s strengths lie in his technical abilities and versatility in midfield. He possesses excellent vision, passing accuracy, and the ability to dictate the tempo of the game. His creativity and goal-scoring prowess make him a valuable asset in the attacking third. Mark Beard, former under-18s coach at Brighton, spoke highly of Moran’s talent, describing him as his favorite player and praising his determination: “He’s my favorite player. I think he is my favorite player I have coached, simply because of the kid he is – he’s lovely… I saw him go through someone with a tackle and thought ‘yeah, he’d do for me!'”
However, Moran faces fierce competition for playing time in Roberto De Zerbi’s squad, which presents a challenge for the young midfielder to break through. De Zerbi’s system demands a blend of technical proficiency, tactical awareness, and the ability to contribute both defensively and offensively. These skills are still being put together by such young players and it will take time for him to adapt.
To fit into De Zerbi’s system, Moran must continue honing his skills and seize opportunities to showcase his talent. But, it is already clear he is getting there, his versatility allows him to adapt to various midfield roles, including playmaking, box-to-box, or even as an attacking midfielder. Moran’s technical prowess and ability to link play between defense and attack align well with De Zerbi’s possession-based style of football.
Despite his potential, Moran does have areas for improvement. As a young player, I would identify that he needs to continue developing his physicality and defensive contributions to become a well-rounded midfielder. Gaining experience and exposure to senior-level football will aid his progress in these aspects.
Brighton’s track record of nurturing young talents as I’ve mentioned heavily in this piece presents a promising platform for Moran’s development. His commitment, along with the guidance of the coaching staff, will determine his growth and potential breakthrough into the first team. Alongside fellow Irish prospects like Evan Ferguson and Jamie Mullins, Moran adds to the pool of exciting young Irish players at Brighton.