Bennett loan capture continues Brighton rebuild under Hyypia
Brighton and Hove Albion, 10/1 chances with Coral for promotion from the Championship, are closing in on a season-long loan deal for Aston Villa left back Joe Bennett, as new boss Sami Hyypia enjoys a productive week in the transfer market.
Prior to their midweek away win at Leeds United, the Seagulls had failed to score in their opening two league games, managing to get just six of out 24 shots on target. One of Hyypia’s recent signings, precocious Portugal youth international Joao Carlos Teixeira, opened Albion’s account at Elland Road, though, before sub Kazenga LuaLua sealed victory.
There has been no resting on former Finland international and Anfield Kop idol Hyypia’s laurels this summer, however. Leonardo Ulloa, the Seagulls’ top scorer from last term, was sold for great money at £8m to Premier League newcomers Leicester City. A replacement was swiftly snared in Chris O’Grady, before this was just the headline departure from the Amex.
Keeper Tomasz Kuszczak was out of contract, along with creative Spanish pair Andrea Orlandi and David Rodriguez, and veteran centre back Matt Upson – Brighton’s Player of the Season last term. Winger Will Buckley, meanwhile, was poached for £4m by former Albion boss Gus Poyet, with the lure of Premier League football at Sunderland too strong to resist.
So, the magnitude of the overhaul facing Hyypia in his maiden campaign as a manager in England has been big. Aaron Hughes, formerly of Fulham, Aston Villa and Newcastle United, came in to cover Upson’s position, while another Craven Cottage connection arrived in stopper David Stockdale.
Dutch midfielder Danny Holla and rising star Teixeira were necessary extra bodies for Brighton, while Hyypia is also happy to take a punt on ex-Celtic and Barnsley winger Paddy McCourt. The arrival of Bennett, subject to successfully passing a medical, is a reaction to missing out on Republic of Ireland left back Stephen Ward, who spent last season on loan at the Amex.
Burnley’s eleventh hour bid, and ability to offer top-flight football again saw Brighton unable to close a deal. Bennett is dropping down because Paul Lambert landed former Liverpool loanee Aly Cissokho from Valencia, while he also has Kieran Richardson capable of operating at left back.
If claims made by John Arne Riise – there’s that Anfield and Fulham link again – are true over Villa chasing his free agent signature, then Bennett must have seen the writing on the wall. He will get first-team football for sure at Albion, who are 4/1 for a top six finish.