Roberto De Zerbi concedes Brighton will struggle to find a replacement for Levi Colwill if Chelsea choose to keep the player this summer.
The 20-year-old has been impressive during his loan spell with Brighton having joined from Chelsea last August.
Brighton are now keen to extend Colwill’s stay at the club but are waiting on Chelsea decision, who have yet to finalise a deal with Mauricio Pochettino to be their next permanent head coach.
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Chelsea are facing the possibility of a huge squad overhaul this summer but Colwill still faces strong competition for a place at the club as they have signed Wesley Fofana, Badiashile and Koulibaly over the past year.
When asked about Colwill’s future at Brighton, De Zerbi said on Friday: ‘I would like to work with him for another two, three, four years.
‘It’s difficult to find a another centre-back, left centre-back, with his quality.
‘He’s a good guy, I think he’s improving a lot. This year his improvement has been fantastic. ‘I hope he can stay with us.’
Meanwhile, Brighton travel to Arsenal on Sunday and ahead of the match, Mikel Arteta praised the club over their transfer strategy.
‘They have a really clear vision, they’ve been ahead of many other clubs in the way they have handled and made decisions,’ Arteta said.
‘The way they have developed players, recruited talent, the way they have set up the club, the people that they recruit as well is really impressive. I think they have done extremely well.
‘The level of every organisation is much better than it was been before. The level of the players, the staff and the coaches – everything has improved. Physically it’s much more demanding, and every detail and every phase of play is dominated in the right way by every opponent.
‘That makes the game fascinating because there are a lot of things that can go your way or not go your way in the small margins, and that is the Premier League right now for every team.’