Brighton’s new manager Roberto De Zerbi said on Tuesday he had received Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola’s stamp of approval after taking charge of the Premier League club.
Former Shakhtar Donetsk manager De Zerbi was hired by Brighton on Sunday as successor to Graham Potter following his move to Chelsea.
The 43-year-old Italian has earned admiration for his teams’ attacking style of football, while his high-performing Sassuolo teams in Serie A drew widespread praise.
His principles caught the attention of Guardiola, who approached his soul mate to congratulate him on joining Brighton.
“I spoke to Pep on Sunday night, yes. He is very happy that he is on board here,” De Zerbi said.
“He spoke very highly of the club to me. And he told me that if I need it he will be very happy to help me. But of course not in the game we are playing against them!”
De Zerbi claimed he chose Brighton over a host of other managerial opportunities after leaving Ukrainian club Shakhtar in July following the Russian invasion.
“The choice to train in Ukraine was mine, I had chances to stay in Serie A but I chose to go to Shakhtar,” De Zerbi said.
“Of course I didn’t expect it to end when it ended because of the start of the conflict. It was also bad to leave something that was going very well.
“Other teams were interested in me, but I’m delighted to be here.”
Brighton owner Tony Bloom said De Zerbi was the best choice to replace Potter as his philosophy aligns with that of the club.
“Roberto is a very good fit for the club, for the players we have and for the style,” Bloom said.
“There are a lot of similarities between Graham Potter and Roberto, and that was a really important thing for us.”
De Zerbi added: “Brighton loved me very much as a manager, and their style of play is very similar to my idea of football.”
Brighton have enjoyed an excellent start to the season and sit fourth in the Premier League after winning four of their first six games before Potter’s departure.
De Zerbi is confident Brighton can establish themselves as a top 10 side after finishing last season in ninth place, their highest finish in history.
“I think the right vision is to always try to improve. And of course last season they finished ninth, so our vision is to stay in the top 10 teams in the league,” he said.
“For me this is a great challenge. I come to work in the most important league in the world.
“I come here very humble because I know where I come to work. But of course I come here with my personality, to do what I know how to do, bringing here my experiences of what I know how to do”.