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Brighton ready to open Roberto De Zerbi contract talks amid Real Madrid interest

Brighton & Hove Albion are ready to open new contract talks with manager Roberto De Zerbi that would seek to alter a release clause in his current deal amid interest from European heavyweights Real Madrid and Napoli, 90min understands.

De Zerbi has been a revelation at Brighton since replacing Graham Potter in September 2022, straightaway delivering a sixth place Premier League finish and the club’s first ever European qualification. So far this season, the Seagulls have continued to compete in the top half of the table are on course to progress to the Europa League knockout rounds from a tough group.

Naturally, his achievements have brought interest from elsewhere. 90min has already revealed that Real Madrid and Napoli, both of whom could be looking for new head coaches in 2024, are keeping tabs on the Italian as they weigh up potential future appointments.

Brighton are not worried by the interest but are still taking steps to strengthen their position. 90min understands that the Seagulls, unsurprisingly very happy with De Zerbi, would like to offer him a new longer contract that would secure his future beyond the 2026 expiry of his current deal.

As it stands, his contract contains a release clause of around £10m that could be triggered by a suitor and another motivation to open talks surrounding a fresh deal is to increase the figure.

Carlo AncelottiCarlo Ancelotti

Real Madrid might need to replace Carlo Ancelotti in 2024 / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

Overall, De Zerbi is understood to be very happy in England and is pleased with the support and backing he has received from the Brighton hierarchy on the transfer front. Despite eventually settling for a British record fee to sell Moises Caicedo, six permanent first-team signings were made during the summer window, as well as Ansu Fati on loan – injury has sadly caught up with him.

The reason Madrid could be on the hunt for a new coach next year surrounds the expiry of Carlo Ancelotti’s contract at the end of the season and the possibility that he could walk away from the Bernabeu to step into international management with Brazil. The Selecao haven’t had a permanent boss since the 2022 World Cup and Ancelotti has been very publicly courted. The four-time Champions League winner already has a preliminary agreement in place with Brazil, although Madrid are also ready to offer him a new contract as players have made it clear they want him to stay.

Following on from Luciano Spalletti’s decision to step down in May, Napoli have already been through one managerial change this season after firing replacement Rudi Garcia and rehiring Walter Mazzarri, who had previously been in charge from 2009 to 2013. But his contract is only a seven-month agreement until the end of the season, at which point a longer-term plan is needed.

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