Graham Potter says Brighton must gamble on unproven youngsters in order to protect the club’s long-term Premier League future after snapping up Ecuadorian teenager Moises Caicedo.
Midfielder Caicedo, who at the age of 19 has already been capped four times by his country, completed his long-awaited move to the Amex Stadium by signing from Independiente del Valle before Monday’s transfer deadline.
His arrival follows the recent captures of Polish prospects Michal Karbownik and Jakub Moder, while full-back Tariq Lamptey and Argentina midfielder Alexis Mac Allister are among the potential stars already making their mark on the Seagulls’ senior team.
Head coach Potter admits the deal for Caicedo involves an element of risk but believes it forms part of a necessary recruitment strategy and demonstrates Albion’s commitment to developing promising talents.
“What it shows is that we’ve done quite well in terms of a pathway for younger players into the first team,” he said.
“We know we’re not a development club, we know we’re not an academy, we’re in the Premier League and we have to get results.
“For us to be competitive longer term, we have to have that ability to sign players that haven’t necessarily reached their potential and we’ve got to help them get there.
“That’s how we’ll grow as a football club. That’s exciting.
“It’s not easy to do, you’re not buying the sure thing, you’ve got to do a lot of work to take a young person from the other side of the world and expect everything to go smoothly – it’s not the reality and a lot of work has to go in.
“That’s what we’re prepared to do and we will do our best.”
Caicedo was reportedly a target for a host of clubs across Europe, including Manchester United and Chelsea.
He has signed a deal until 2025 with Albion, subject to international clearance, and been described by his new manager as a physical, athletic, box-to-box player.
The South American will be given time to adapt to English football but an immediate loan move, which happened in the cases of Karbownik, Moder and Mac Allister, has been ruled out.
“The plan is for him to acclimatise and settle in here with us,” said Potter.
“It wouldn’t be fair for me to put any real expectations on him for the next couple of months.
“The main thing is to settle in and adapt. He’s not coming in to fix any problems for us as the first thing, that’s for sure.
“He’s here to settle in and get to know us, we get to know him, so the expectations are just that really.”
Brighton took a significant step towards retaining top-flight status by deservedly defeating Tottenham 1-0 on Sunday evening to pick up their first home league win of the campaign.
The overdue success moved the Seagulls seven points clear of the relegation zone ahead of Wednesday’s testing trip to Liverpool.
Potter would have preferred more time to celebrate outwitting Spurs boss Jose Mourinho but accepts the relentless nature of the top flight means his side must swiftly refocus.
“That’s the challenge, that’s the Premier League for you. You’d like a few more days to enjoy the victory, but that’s not how it is,” he said.
“The games come thick and fast – we’ve got a couple of days to recover, to turn around and prepare to face the champions. It’s a massive test for us.”
Mac Allister and Joel Veltman will have muscle issues assessed before the visit to Anfield but Lamptey, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Danny Welbeck remain out.