Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi has praised 18-year-old striker Evan Ferguson, saying that he has the potential to become a “complete player”. Ferguson has been compared to Premier League legends Michael Owen and Erling Haaland, and is quickly emerging as one of the most exciting young players in the league. He made five appearances for Brighton last season, including his Premier League debut, but it’s this season where he’s really come into his own. So far, he has scored seven goals in just 16 senior appearances, including a brace in the 5-0 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Grimsby.
After having a goal disallowed, Ferguson could easily have been walking away with the match ball against the League Two side, leading England legend and Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker to describe him as “a real centre forward”. His own manager, De Zerbi, was also keen to sing his praises as he explained how he’s trying to enhance his all-round game. Speaking after the game, De Zerbi said: “Ferguson is a special striker. Me and my staff are working to improve him to not only be a number nine and a striker but improve him to be understanding the play – when to receive the ball or when to attack the space and not only one thing – to complete the player, to complete the guy.”
With Ferguson only turning 18 in October, the young striker certainly has the world at his feet. He’s already won two senior caps for Republic of Ireland and according to talkSPORT’s Scott Minto, Ferguson is already showing similarities with two Premier League striking legends. Minto told talkSPORT: “The scary thing is that he could go all the way, he really could. I watch him and he’s 18 now, he’s playing like a 29-year-old. He’s got the physique of a 29-year-old, he’s got the maturity of a 29-year-old and you’re talking about someone like Mitoma who can get better, well this kid can obviously get better and better.”
Minto added: “When he’s in front of goal, he’s got a very different physique, but he looks like Michael Owen. You need to be ice cold in front of goal and have that composure and he did that. He was only just offside for the goal that was disallowed but if it wasn’t for that he’d have a hat-trick here. Forget the fact that you’re playing against a League Two team, they would have been three quality goals, so how good could he be? He could definitely play for a Champions League side in a few years’ time.”
As it stands, Brighton are seven points off fourth spot in the league, but with three games in hand, there’s every chance that they’ll be right in the mix come the end of the season. With sharp finishing like he has, Ferguson could be set for a prolific few years.