Chelsea director sends crucial Levi Colwill Brighton transfer hint after De Zerbi ‘confirmation’
Chelsea and Brighton appear set for another summer of talks following a large amount of deals over the last year. On the night that the Seagulls confirmed their first ever Europa League finish, Frank Lampard’s side were preparing to face Manchester United in a game that essentially means nothing to the Blues.
Despite signing the club’s player of the season for last year, paying over £21million for the manager and backroom staff as well as bringing in an influential recruitment director, Brighton will still finish at least five places higher than Chelsea and could extend that gap. The south coast club could also do yet more damage to their newfound rivals.
Having already secured a bargain deal to bring in Billy Gilmour for under £10million last summer, Brighton were also quick to add England youth star Levi Colwill to their ranks on loan. The 20-year-old has been mightily impressive in his first year in the top flight after taking a while to be afforded much opportunity.
Colwill has since established himself as one of the best young defenders in the division. Chelsea plan to integrate him into the squad for Mauricio Pochettino’s expected arrival over the summer, but it may not be as cut and dried as that.
“I forgot for a minute,” Colwill joked briefly in an interview with the Athletic when he was reminded that he was in fact owned by Chelsea and not Brighton. His admiration for the club is clear, as is his fondness of elite level breakthrough manager of the year, Roberto De Zerbi.
“Amazing,” said Colwill of the Italian. “When Roberto came in (last September), he just changed things. His mentality as a manager is world class and he is definitely going to be one of the best managers in the world — if he’s not already.”
There is certainly mutual love here, too.
“I would like to work with him for another two, three, four years, because it’s difficult to find another left centre-back with his quality,” De Zerbi said of his player last month. “He’s a good guy. I think he’s improving a lot this year. His improvement has been fantastic. I hope he can stay with us.”
Chelsea haven’t forgotten about Colwill, though. He is one of their highest-rated players from the academy in recent years and has taken to life in senior football like Reece James did with his initial experiences in the Championship with Wigan and then under Frank Lampard back at Stamford Bridge in 2019. To show just how much he is seen as part of the future of the club, the club’s director of global talent and transfers, Paul Winstanley, has liked a tweet praising Colwill.
“Another day, another tweet reminding you Levi Colwill is going to be an elite CB at the top level,” wrote influential Chelsea fan Alex Goldberg on social media in April, 2022. It is not clear when Winstanley, who moved from Brighton to Chelsea during the season, after Colwill’s loan had been completed, liked the tweet but the point still stands. Chelsea have Colwill at the forefront of their minds. Colwill currently has Brighton in his.
“Brighton have done a lot for me. They put their trust in me when others didn’t and I’m a person that loves to repay that. We’ll see. I don’t know what is going to happen [at Chelsea],” he added.
“I’m still here until the end of the season. I just focus on that, then I’ve got the Euros [the Under-21 European Championship with England] in the summer. After that, we’ll see what happens and go from there. “It’s been amazing – every part, on the pitch, off the pitch. I’ve learnt so many things. I’ve grown, not just only as a player, but as a man too, and I think it’s due to the manager and the players. I’ve just loved every minute of it.
“I’m not someone to predict the future. I take it day by day, but it’s been an amazing journey.”
De Zerbi himself has already honestly addressed the future of some of his star players. The 1-1 draw with Manchester City was the final home match of a historic season for Brighton but could also have been a farewell for Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister, both of whom have been linked with Chelsea.
“It can be the last game but I don’t know,” he said before the match. “They can have the possibility to change [clubs] because they deserve to play in another level. “I don’t know what Tony [Bloom, Brighton owner] can decide,”
the Italian boss continued. “But now we can offer them the possibility to play in Europe because our level is bigger now. We can offer them one possibility more.”
Chelsea aren’t in a position to offer European football to the pair but Caicedo specifically is believed to have moved up the list of priorities for the summer. Like Winstanley, fellow new recruitment guru Joe Shields has hinted at a move for the Ecuadorian by commenting on his Instagram live video after the game. Once again, Chelsea and Brighton find themselves involved in more moves in the transfer market.