Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo is the subject of a three-way transfer battle between Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal – so where should he end up?
The 21-year-old Ecuador international has been one of the most highly-rated players in his Premier League tenure, helping Albion qualify for next season’s Europa League.
So BBC Sport looks at how good Caicedo is and where he will fit in at those clubs next season.
How did Caicedo do last season?
Caicedo joined Albion from Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle for a reported £4.5m in February 2021 but did not play that season.
He spent the first half of the 2021-22 season on loan at Beerschot in Belgium before being recalled in January due to injuries to other Albion midfielders.
He made his Premier League debut in April 2022 and a year and 26 appearances after his return to England, Brighton rejected a £70m bid from Arsenal.
Caicedo, who informed Brighton in an open letter that he wanted to leave but then sign a new deal afterwards, has played 53 times for the club in all competitions, scoring twice.
He is a central midfielder by trade, having played more of a holding midfielder role when Roberto de Zerbi replaced Graham Potter as manager in September, and has also featured at right-back on several occasions.
Caicedo ranked high among Premier League players in several metrics last season.
His 100 tackles are just behind Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha, while only West Ham’s Declan Rice has made more interceptions than Caicedo’s 56.
Only Manchester City’s Rodri and Rice have made more interceptions in the middle third of the pitch than Caicedo’s 142.
He ranks seventh for passing yards (2209), sixth for successful passes (1961) and eighth for touchdowns (2735).
“I think that was Alexis’ last game [Mac Allister] and Moises, I’m really sorry,” said De Zerbi after Brighton’s last game of the season.
“They can play in every competition and are ready to compete for a big team and I hope for them that they can play with the best team in the world.”
Mac Allister has joined Liverpool. It seems unlikely, but it’s not impossible for Caicedo to stay at Brighton – they’ll need a bigger squad now that they’re in Europe.
If he leaves Brighton, where will he go?
Can Arsenal sign Caicedo and Rice?
Caicedo looks set to join Arsenal, who were challenging for the title, in January but Brighton stood firm as they wanted to boost their own European ambitions. Indeed in April he said he was “really close” to joining the Gunners.
He is one of two of the Premier League’s top defensive midfielders being pursued by Arsenal – along with West Ham’s Rice. They compete with champions Manchester City for the England international.
They also are Chelsea’s attacking midfielder Kai Havertz is close to being signed for £65m.
“Although Rice is a big target for Arsenal, signing him when it comes through will not end interest in Caicedo,” said BBC Sport reporter Alex Howell.
“The Ecuadorian finished the season playing occasionally at right-back for the Seagulls before moving into midfield and giving Arteta another option.
“Olexandr Zinchenko did well for the team from left back as they finished second in the Premier League.
“With Havertz likely to sign, Rice if completed, and Martin Odegaard as midfield options, that position could be a way for Arteta to include all his potential new signings.”
Thomas Partey and Jorginho were Arsenal’s defensive midfielders last season.
Could Caicedo join the new look Chelsea midfield?
Chelsea also tried to sign Caicedo in January, with a £55m bid reportedly rejected, when Potter – the manager who brought him to England – was in charge.
There are plenty of midfield changes taking place at Stamford Bridge this summer under new boss Mauricio Pochettino.
They are set sell Mateo Kovacic to Manchester City for £30m, N’Golo Kante is leaving for Al-Ittihad as a free agent, Denis Zakaria’s loan spell from Juventus is over and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will soon join AC Milan.
Attacking midfielder Havertz is close to joining Arsenal, as Manchester United attempt to sign Mason Mount.
Howell said Potter and his backroom staff were “blown away” by Caicedo when he signed for Brighton at the age of 19.
“With the departure of Kovacic and Kante and the subject of long-term interest from Manchester United, Caicedo could be the ready Premier League quality player the Blues need,” added Howell.
Caicedo will feature alongside £107m record British signing Enzo Fernandez if he joins Pochettino’s side.
Mount or Caicedo for Man Utd?
United could make a move for Caicedo if they fail in their £55m bid for England’s Mount from Chelsea.
It appears as if they will only try to sign one of them – although Mount is performing further than Caicedo.
“While Casemiro proved himself to be more than that in his debut season, Caicedo is someone who can go into the engine room of a Premier League midfield and get United going in the way that Fred and Scott McTominay tried and failed to do and Christian. Obviously Eriksen can’t,” said BBC reporter Simon Stone.
“It’s interesting that United are looking at him as an alternative to Mason Mount because the Chelsea man is clearly more of a goalscoring threat and more elusive with the ball at his feet.
“However, if Caicedo does make the Old Trafford switch it will release Eriksen to step forward, something many United fans feel the club should have looked at in the first place.”
Former Premier League midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Caicedo is the one who fits what they need in midfield. He’s a way better version of Fred in terms of of football intelligence, energy, ability to see danger and be very defensive-minded.
“Caicedo is what Manchester United need more than a Mason Mount.”
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