Football News

Brighton transfers: Did Liverpool miss out on one of Europe’s most complete CMs?

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 15:10, 9 July 2024

Brighton’s mini-Dutch enclave welcomed a new member as Mats Wieffer completed his £25.6m switch from Eredivisie giants Feyenoord.

The 24-year-old midfielder joins compatriots Bart Verbruggen, Jan Paul van Hecke and Joël Veltman at the Falmer Stadium, with the signing representing somewhat of a coup.

Due to his excellent performances in Rotterdam, the nine-time capped international received interest from numerous clubs, including reportedly Barcelona, Milan, Atlético Madrid, and Liverpool, where his former boss Arne Slot begins the post-Jürgen Klopp era.

Slot, who has yet to make his first signing as Reds boss, was quick to point out that there were no concrete plans to bring Wieffer to Anfield despite reports suggesting Liverpool had made an eleventh-hour bid.

“No, I have not spoken to Mats,” he told Viaplay. “It would be very nice to see him, but I hope he doesn’t want to prove himself too much in those matches against his old manager.

“I think it’s especially great for him when you see where he comes from. That he can make the step to the Premier League two years after he came from Excelsior. That’s great for him.

“It’s fantastic for him, but also for Feyenoord because it’s the biggest transfer in the club’s history.”

As expected, Slot’s former club was reluctant to let Wieffer go easily, and they had very good reasons when you consider his underlying numbers.

The former Twente academy graduate joined the Rotterdammers in July 2022 from cross-city rivals Excelsior and quickly established a strong reputation for himself. Wieffer played an instrumental role in Feyenoord’s victory in the 2022/23 Eredivisie, but their championship defence unravelled at the hands of Peter Bosz’s all-conquering PSV team, who claimed the title with a seven-point margin.

Despite his team falling short, Wieffer made a strong case to be considered one of the most complete central midfielders in Europe, if not the best. Hence, the plethora of interest.

In the 2023/24 season, he was the only footballer in Europe’s top seven leagues to achieve 30 or more in the following categories: shots (37), chances created (38), take-ons completed (34), aerial duels won (93), tackles made (83), fouls won (37), interceptions (50), clearances (35), touches in the opposition box (68), and passes into the opposition box (63).

“We’re delighted to welcome Mats to the club, a player whose qualities we have admired for a long time,” Brighton’s technical director David Weir said.

Wieffer is among the wave of new players to join following the appointment of new Brighton coach Fabian Hurzeler, who incidentally becomes the first Premier League manager to be born after the competition’s inception in 1992.

“He explained me the way they want to play next season and it’s quite similar to what I was used to when I played at Feyenoord. The impressions are really good and I’m really looking forward to getting started,” he said.

Wieffer added that his best position is a number six. “I also can play box to box, but I prefer to play at six, to join the build-up, to play a lot of balls forward,” he added. “I like one-touch play a lot too and, of course, if you play six you have to win a lot of duels. Those are my qualities and sometimes I score as well, maybe in set pieces.”