According to reports, Brighton and Hove Albion have completed the signing of Nigeria international defender Leon Balogun on a free transfer.
Balogun, 29, left Bundesliga side Mainz at the end of the season and has signed a two-year deal with Chris Hughton’s side.
Brighton finished 15th in the league this season after winning promotion from the Championship. Hughton made some shrewd signings last summer, most notably Pascal Gross from Ingolstadt and the club did a good job to stay in the top-flight.
Gross scored 7 goals and provided 8 assists in the league and was named the club’s Player of the Season. Going by Gross’ telling impact in his debut season in England, a lot could be expected from former Mainz defender Leon Balogun as well.
Balogun has represented Nigeria 14 times and was named in manager Gernot Rohr’s provisional 30-man squad for next month’s World Cup. The Berlin-born defender has plenty of experience in the Bundesliga, having also represented Hannover and Werder Bremen among other clubs.
To start with, Balogun is a ball-playing centre-back and with his range of style and good positional sense, he would massively strengthen Brighton’s defence.
Although he is comfortable on the ball, the 29-year-old likes to keep things simple with tidy and crisp short passing. Balogun often acted as the player to build up attacks from the back at Mainz.
A rock at the back for Mainz, Balogun had established himself as one of the reliable centre-backs in the Bundesliga. In a couple of years, he has developed into Nigeria’s best centre-back. At 29, he still has a lot to give to Brighton.
Having spent a lot of time in the Bundesliga, the experience Balogun would bring to the Seagulls side should be measured in gold.
Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy established a formidable centre-back pairing for Brighton in the recently concluded season.
The way Dunk and Duffy worked in defence proved difficult for some teams to breach. Arsenal and Manchester United were a couple of teams to come back home without a single point from their visit to Brighton.
This speaks volumes about Brighton’s defensive shape and rigidity under Hughton. He has built an excellent Brighton team, keeping the defence as his cornerstone. While his midfield and attack have been good, the way the Seagulls have shown defensive resoluteness the entire season is commendable.
With a good defence already in place, Balogun would add more depth and solidity to it. The 29-year-old is playing at the peak of his powers and without any doubt, Balogun is an excellent signing for Brighton.
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