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De Zerbi to leave Brighton after EPL season ends

Gareth Fuller - PA Images / PA Images / Getty

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Roberto De Zerbi will leave his position as Brighton & Hove Albion manager after Sunday's final Premier League match against Manchester United.

“I am very sad to be leaving Brighton, but I am very proud of what my players and staff have achieved with the support of everyone at the club and our amazing fans in the past two historical seasons," the Italian said in a statement Saturday.

"We have agreed to end my time at Brighton so that the club and I can continue to work in the way that suits each of us best, following our own ideas and visions, as well as our work and human values."

De Zerbi, who helped the Seagulls qualify for European football for the first time in club history, is bound to draw interest from top European clubs this summer.

Bayern Munich appeared to be the front-runners for his signature. The Bavarians discussed De Zerbi as a serious candidate to replace the outgoing Thomas Tuchel earlier this week, according to Bild's Christian Falk.

But transfer insider Fabrizio Romano reported Saturday that De Zerbi will not join Bayern and that the club's new manager won't be Italian.

De Zerbi reportedly has a £12-million release clause in his contract with Brighton. That's now expected to become null and void, removing a potential obstacle in negotiations with other clubs.

The 44-year-old joined Brighton in September 2022 as Graham Potter's successor and expanded upon the Englishman's legacy of attacking football. De Zerbi's high-energy, pass-first approach powered the club to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League and a place in the Europa League.

"Roberto has given us two excellent seasons of service in which he has led the club to new heights, not least our first-ever European campaign which will live long in the memory of Albion fans," club chairman Tony Bloom added.

“We have mutually agreed to end Roberto's contract at a time that suits both parties, allowing us the earliest opportunity to plan for next season, and Roberto plenty of time to consider his next move and his future."

Brighton took a step back this season as they juggled multiple competitions and struggled with defending and playing out from the back. They suffered a heavy 6-1 defeat early on to Aston Villa and a shocking 4-0 loss to relegated Luton Town later in the season, as well as other lopsided results against Arsenal, Fulham, Bournemouth, and Manchester City. Roma also humbled Brighton in the Europa League round of 16.

Even with a win Sunday over United, Brighton can finish no higher than 10th place in the league, meaning European football is out of reach.

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