Brighton have made Roberto De Zerbi their new manager, with the Italian signing a four-year deal.
The 43-year-old former Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk manager agreed final terms late on Sunday afternoon on a deal to succeed Graham Potter, who departed for Chelsea this month.
De Zerbi met with the club owner, Tony Bloom, the chief executive, Paul Barber, and the technical director, David Weir, a few days ago and flew into Sussex on Friday night before watching a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Amex Stadium on Saturday afternoon. As a mark of respect on the day of the Queen’s funeral, De Zerbi will not be formally introduced to the media until Tuesday afternoon.
De Zerbi’s 14 months at Shakhtar came to an end in July, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Shakhtar were top of the table when last season had to be abandoned.
Bloom said: “I am absolutely thrilled Roberto has agreed to become our new head coach. Roberto’s teams play an exciting and courageous brand of football and I am confident his style and tactical approach will suit our existing squad superbly.”
Weir said: “Roberto has shown his undoubted ability with his work in Italy and Ukraine, and what he achieved at Sassuolo certainly stands out. In his short spell with Shakhtar he enjoyed further success, leading the club to cup success and topping the Ukrainian league before the war brought an abrupt halt to his time there.
“We are delighted to welcome Roberto and we look forward to introducing him to our squad as well as providing all the support he needs to introduce his coaching philosophy and help the players continue their brilliant start to the season.”
Barber, who is also deputy chairman, said: “We looked at a range of excellent candidates but Roberto was our number one choice from the start and the only person we spoke to. It’s no secret our chairman is constantly monitoring potential coaches, both here in our domestic leagues, throughout Europe and across the world as part of our succession planning work.
“We feel Roberto is the ideal cultural and technical fit for Brighton, and the right person to continue the club’s progress and work with this outstanding group of players.”
De Zerbi joined Shakhtar in May 2021 and won the Ukrainian Super Cup last September. The 43-year-old has also managed a number of Italian clubs, most recently Sassuolo, whom he led to eighth-place finishes in Serie A in 2020 and 2021. His first stint in the top division with Palermo ended swiftly and unsuccessfully and he was unable to keep promoted Benevento in Serie A in 2018.
Potter left Brighton for Chelsea this month and De Zerbi is inheriting a team fourth in the Premier League. The club’s first game after the international break is at Liverpool on 1 October, after which they play at home to Tottenham on 8 October.