- Caicedo left out of squad vs Liverpool
- Arsenal linked with move for midfielder
- De Zerbi planning for life without him
WHAT HAPPENED? The 21-year-old was left out of Brighton's squad to face Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round after requesting a move away from the club in a social media post on Friday. De Zerbi's side showed no signs of missing Caicedo, though, as they secured a late 2-1 victory over holders Liverpool on Sunday. De Zerbi has admitted that the club are "ready to go forward" without their midfield maestro, even though he would prefer him to stay.
WHAT THEY SAID: “Caicedo is a very good guy. I can understand him, because when you are 21 and you receive a request from a big team playing in European competition, I can understand," the Brighton boss conceded after the game. “I would like him to finish the season with us, but we’re ready to go forward without him. We need some players in some positions.
"I’ve spoken lots of times with Tony (owner-chairman Tony Bloom). He knows very well my opinion, because we are a good team but we can improve also from the transfer window. We lost Trossard (to Arsenal). If we lose also Caicedo, it can be a problem for us if we want to fight for Europe and the best position in the table. If we want to stay like this, we can stay but I don’t like (it).”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Brighton were first approached by Chelsea over the transfer of Caicedo, but it is now league leaders Arsenal who are leading the way for the Ecuadorian. The Gunners saw an offer of £60m ($74m) rejected by the Seagulls, who have since slapped a £90m ($111.5m) price tag on the midfielder while also ordering the player tostay at home until the transfer window closes.
IN THREE PHOTOS:GettyGetty ImagesGetty Images
WHAT NEXT? With Caicedo's price tag set and Brighton traditionally firm on their transfer approach, it remains to be seen whether Arsenal - or Chelsea - meet the club's demands. The Seagulls, for their part, will be waiting for the transfer window to slam shut, leaving De Zerbi with a definitive squad to work with as they chase FA Cup glory and the European places.