If Ajax want Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Brighton should sell

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WeAreBrighton.com – BRIGHTON, The transfer rumour mill sprang into life over the weekend with Ajax being linked with a summer move for Brighton & Hove Albion winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh.

Ajax boss Marc Overmars views Jahanbakhsh as the perfect replacement for Chelsea-bound Hakim Ziyech, according to reports from Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

A return to the Eredivisie would present a way for Jahanbakhsh to end his Brighton nightmare. Since signing from AZ Alkmaar for a club record £17 million in the summer of 2018, the Iranian international has managed just two goals and one assist in 33 games.

Graham Potter has used Jahanbakhsh just 10 times this season, eight Premier League appearances and two cup matches. Since the Premier League restarted after lockdown, Jahanbakhsh has failed to make Potter’s matchday squad despite the increase to nine substitutes. Clearly, the Brighton boss does not rate him.

Which is why if Ajax do make an offer for Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Brighton should sell. There is little point in keeping a player who so obviously does not figure in a manager’s plans, especially one who deserves a shot at first team football elsewhere for his exemplary attitude.

The debate over Jahanbakhsh’s ability will no doubt rage long after he leaves the Albion. The facts are that he has contributed towards three goals in his 35 game Brighton career, which works out at a cost of £5.66 million per involvement.

He didn’t register a single goal or assist under Chris Hughton in the 2018-19 season, which some supporters put down to Hughton’s negative tactics.

They believed that a more attack-minded boss such as Potter would draw the sort of form from Jahanbakhsh which saw him score 21 times in the Eredivisie for AZ Alkmaar in 2017-18.

Instead, Potter didn’t give Jahanbakhsh a minute of league football until the Premier League campaign reached December.

His first start then came on December 28th and he marked the occasion with the opener against Plucky Little Bournemouth, before scoring that stunning overhead kick against Chelsea to win the Premier League Goal of the Month award for January.

There had been hope that might belatedly light a fire under Jahanbakhsh’s Brighton career, but it hasn’t really happened.

Scoring an overhead kick does not suddenly turn you into a future Ballon d’Or winner as a lot of Brighton fans seem to think, as those of us who witnessed Tommy Fraser away at Hereford United in 2009 can testament to.

Jahanbakhsh wouldn’t be the first big money signing from the Netherlands to struggle in England and he probably won’t be the last.

There is something about the gulf in standard between the Eredivisie and the Premier League that makes it particularly hard for strikers to adapt. Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Vincent Janssen, Memphis Depay and, er, Jurgen Locadia are testament to that.

What cannot be in doubt however is Jahanbakhsh’s dedication, attitude and commitment. Which explains why even his harshest critics over the past two years – and we were definitely one of those when it came to his on-pitch contribution – would be hard pushed not to wish him well wherever he goes next.

When Jahanbakhsh finally got the monkey goal off his back against the Cherries, he sunk to his knees and cried. That is how much scoring a Premier League goal meant to him. Even Ebenezer Scrooge would have been touched.

As his Brighton career failed to take off and he sat watching from the stands, it would have been easy for Jahanbakhsh to give up. He could have sat around collecting his hefty wage packet and do nothing to try and turnaround his Brighton career.

We’ve seen that already with Locadia’s attitude. When it became apparent that he wasn’t adapting to the Premier League well, rather than knuckle down and try and make an impression, he decided to tell The Argus he shouldn’t play as target man because he doesn’t like heading the ball; wanted to move to Germany or Spain; and dedicated time he could have put to good use improving on the training ground to releasing shit music.

Upon Florin Andone’s departure to Galatasaray, the Romanian striker gave an interview to The Athletic in which he blamed Hughton, Potter, Glenn Murray and the Albion as a whole for him not nailing down a first team place.

Never mind that he spent six games suspended for being a loose cannon, the same number of goals he managed to score. One goal per suspension. The problem wasn’t Brighton, Florin.

Compare that to Jahanbakhsh, who hasn’t had a bad word to say about the Albion. He’s patiently waited for his chance under Potter and when he got it, scored a goal that left him so overcome with emotion that he burst into tears.

Even now, when he cannot break into Potter’s extended 20-man matchday squad, he doesn’t complain. Those reports about Ajax’s interest are attached with quotes which say that although Jahanbakhsh is frustrated, he still wants to make it work at Brighton. A first class attitude, right there.

It is the professionalism of Alireza Jahanbakhsh during his time at Brighton which means that the club should be willing to listen to offers, whether they be from Ajax or elsewhere.

What might stop the Albion from doing so is the massive loss that they are certain to make. No other Premier League side would be interested in Jahanbakhsh based on his performances at the Amex and few clubs on the continent will offer anywhere near the £17 million that Brighton played.

Take Ajax for example. Their transfer record is £14.63 million and they have only paid over £10 million for eight players in their history.

They are the richest club in the Eredivisie and yet they won’t be offering close to enough money for Brighton not to make a huge loss on Jahanbakhsh.

The Albion might therefore decide to hang onto Jahanbakhsh for another year for two reasons. Firstly, they may hope he develops into a first team regular in his third season in England. With Potter seemingly not taking to him, that seems pretty unlikely.

Secondly, the club might be reluctant to lose face on another bad bit of transfer business. Locadia was signed for £14 million, only to depart to FC Cinicinnati in a loan deal which can be turned permanent for a fee of £4 million. The Rachel Riley’s among you will be deduced that means a £10 million loss on him.

Another £10 million on Jahanbakhsh would mean £20 million lost on two record-breaking signings made within six months of each other. Hardly a glowing endorsement of the work of Paul Winstanley and the recruitment team.

It isn’t Jahanbakhsh’s fault that the Albion paid £17 million for him. And it isn’t Jahanbakhsh’s fault that they did so in the transfer window following a huge outlay on Locadia with plenty of warning signs about signing players from the Netherlands – see Locadia, Danny Holla, Elvis Manu and Roland Bergkamp.

Jahanbakhsh should not be kept at the Amex just because Brighton don’t want his departure to highlight more failings in their transfer business.

He has been too much of a professional with a brilliant attitude to deserve that. If Potter doesn’t rate Alireza Jahnabakhsh, then Brighton should sell to someone who will give him the shot at first team football that he deserves. And he would go with all our blessings.

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