By Ed Elliot, PA
Roberto De Zerbi is braced for a summer of hard work as Europa League-bound Brighton set about building a squad capable of competing on four fronts.
The Seagulls will play continental football for the first time in their 122-year history next term, in addition to their Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup commitments.
Albion wrapped up a record-breaking sixth-placed finish ahead of Sunday’s climax at Aston Villa, despite operating with a relatively small player pool, particularly during a congested run-in.
Head coach De Zerbi does not believe the club require a raft of new arrivals to be ready for the forthcoming European tour.
Yet the former Shakhtar Donetsk boss is determined to add depth and quality to his squad, especially if in-demand pair Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister are sold.
“Monday starts the toughest period in my season because without football it is difficult,” he said.
“I am looking forward to starting the next pre-season. I think we have to work in this holiday because we have to build a new squad to prepare for the new season.
“I think we don’t need so many players.
“We have to understand if Caicedo, Mac Allister (are sold) – I don’t know which players can leave – then we have to bring very good players because next season will be tougher than this one.”
Brighton defied all expectations during a remarkable campaign by breaking into the top six and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals.
Graham Potter oversaw the Seagulls’ strong start before De Zerbi scaled new heights following his predecessor’s departure to Chelsea in September.
The Italian is unsure how much financial backing he will receive in the coming months and insists the scale of the summer overhaul will depend on the number of outgoings.
“I can speak only about the characteristics, the quality of players,” he said. “Money is not my job.
“For sure I can tell you we have to have a stronger squad, a bigger squad because we will play in four competitions.
“And we have to be ready to compete in our way in these four competitions because we arrived with 14, 15 players in the crucial part of the season.
“The next year will be tougher because in the history of the Premier League it can happen that clubs achieve Europa League and the next year you have to fight to avoid relegation.”