He wanted it this way – Roberto De Zerbi explains Robert Sanchez absence
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Roberto De Zerbi says Robert Sanchez is not currently part of Brighton’s first-team plans because the goalkeeper “wanted it this way”.
Sanchez was a surprise absentee from Albion’s matchday squad for Sunday’s 3-0 Premier League win at Arsenal and will not be involved in Thursday’s game at Newcastle.
The 25-year-old Spain international lost his starting role to Jason Steele in early March, with his future at the Amex Stadium now shrouded in uncertainty.
“With Robert, we spoke before the Arsenal game and we decided together the best solution was to stay home,” said Seagulls head coach De Zerbi.
“He decides everything. Robert decides and at the moment it’s like this. He wanted it this way, not me, not the club.”
Sanchez has been restricted to FA Cup appearances during the past three months, aside from playing in the 2-1 victory at Chelsea on April 15 when Steele was injured.
Meanwhile, De Zerbi confirmed Brighton are on the verge of completing a free transfer deal for 27-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud, who is out of contract in the summer.
“I know very well Dahoud but he’s not official at the moment,” said the Italian.
“He’s not official yet and we will speak about him later, in the next press conference.”
After a reporter said “it sounds like he’s coming”, De Zerbi replied: “Yes, because we have no secret and I like him and I would like to work with him.”
De Zerbi is eager to bolster his squad as he braces himself for some big-name departures.
Yet he is not completely resigned to losing the likes of Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister, contrary to reports following the weekend win at Emirates Stadium.
“I didn’t say it like this,” he said. “I said it can be the possibility to lose some big players, like Caicedo maybe, Mac Allister, (Kaoru) Mitoma, I don’t know.
“But we are Brighton and I know the policy of my club and we have to be ready to bring in other good players with the right characteristics.”
Sixth-placed Albion require just two more wins from their remaining four fixtures to secure Europa League qualification following the stunning success over Mikel Arteta’s Gunners.
De Zerbi is balancing injury problems ahead of the long trip to St James’ Park.
He admits selection issues are causing him to lose sleep, with Joel Veltman, Adam Webster, Solly March, Tariq Lamptey, Adam Lallana, Jakub Moder and Jeremy Sarmiento remaining on the lengthy injury list.
“We can’t lose any more players for the last four games,” he said.
“We can’t take any risks and we start (with the intention) to win the game tomorrow but we have to think we have four games in 12 days.
“I’m losing sleep to decide the best first XI.”
The Seagulls received widespread plaudits for their weekend performance in north London as they emphatically bounced back from being thrashed 5-1 by relegation-threatened Everton.
De Zerbi urged his players to set aside the elation of that result and focus on future challenges and the chance to make history by claiming a European spot.
“We have to be ready to forget the last game and start with a clean head,” he said.
“We are fighting for a historic target and if we want to reach the historic target we have to make historic results.
“This year we won two times against Chelsea, we won 3-0 against Liverpool, we won 3-0 in Emirates Stadium.
“We are winning incredible games but to reach the incredible target you have to win incredible games.
“We can decide our destiny and our future but we know the way is still difficult.”
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