The Argus – BRIGHTON, Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s display against Huddersfield was widely perceived to be his best yet for Albion – but there was still an element missing for the record signing.
He did not score or set up a goal.
The Iran winger came close on his first Premier League start since early November with a first half shot which dipped against the bar and in the second half with a finish too close to keeper Jonas Lossl.
“I felt really good,” he said. “I was fit, with good confidence, but still I don’t think that’s my best to be honest.
“The fans haven’t seen my best yet. I was close to scoring a goal, but as long as I don’t score, don’t give assists, that is obviously not my best game. That’s what I am looking for.”
Jahanbakhsh is still in the infancy of his journey adjustment from the Dutch Eredivisie to the Premier League.
A late arrival after representing his country in last summer’s World Cup in Russia, a hamstring injury which ruled him out for two-and-a-half months and another international departure to play in the Asian Cup have combined to restrict Jahanbakhsh to 15 appearances in all competitions, seven of them from the bench, since his £17 million switch from AZ Alkmaar in July.
The well-groomed 25-year-old has looked neat and tidy without setting the pulse racing.
There is another reason, other than the multiple interruptions, for the contrast in figures between the 21 goals in 33 games for Alkmaar last season, concluding with a pair of hat-tricks.
Manager Chris Hughton said: “It emphasises that he played right side in a 4-3-3 and didn’t have the defensive responsibilities you need to have in this division for a club at this level.
“I think they gave him a little bit more of a licence in the final third and he is a very good finisher.
“That’s where the adjustment is. In a 4-3-3 it is very difficult for him to play the same way here as he did in Holland.”
Although Jahanbakhsh had the freedom of the park in Holland, he is accustomed to a more disciplined role for his country.
There are similarities between Albion’s Premier League stature and the challenge Iran faced in their World Cup group.
They beat Morocco 1-0, lost 1-0 to Spain and held Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal to a 1-1 draw.
Jahanbakhsh told The Argus: “The position we are in as a team and the Premier League is a different competition to the Dutch League.
“He (Hughton) wants more from me in the defensive part, which I am trying to do.
“Actually as an attacking player you would like to be with a free role in front, just to do your things.
“I know what he wants from me, to also defend sometimes as a winger. That’s what I’m trying to improve every single game.
“With the national team we’ve had that a lot of time. In the World Cup we had that. As a team we knew we were facing a bigger team with more quality players. One more player in the defence can help the balance of the team, not to concede any goals.
“That is the same here with the Premier League games. I was doing that quite well in the time I was playing. After that I was injured and away, now I am back I have to get to improve that again, get back to the good shape and what the manager wants from me.”