‘Buy-to-sell’ transfer policy paying dividends for Red Bull Salzburg and Brighton and Hove Albion
Brighton announced the signing of RB Salzburg midfielder and Zambian international Enock Mwepu on Tuesday, for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £18 million.
Affectionately nicknamed ‘The Computer’ for his ability to read the game, Mwepu became quite the fan favourite during his four seasons at RB Salzburg.
Since his arrival in 2017, the versatile midfielder has shared the floor with some of Europe’s finest young stars, including RB Leipzig trio Amadou Haidara, Konrad Laimer and Dominik Szoboszlai, Liverpool winger Takumi Minamino and Borussia Dortmund talisman Eric Braut Haaland.
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Before Mwepu, the Austrian side also managed to kick-start illustrious careers for Sadio Mane, Dayot Upamecano, Naby Keita and Kevin Kampl, who all now play at Champions League level.
Remarkably, despite breeding fresh and exciting talent every year, RB Salzburg manage to scout stars at bargain-basement prices consistently, having exceeded a transfer fee of £10 million only once in their history.
Therefore, at first glance, Mwepu is the quintessential RB Salzburg departure. The sale goes hand in hand with the club’s lucrative transfer policy: buy young players, develop talent, and sell for millions.
At RB Salzburg, rising stars are given an opportunity to experience the exciting and fast-paced nature of top flight football far sooner than most at youth academy level. Once put on show in the shop window, players often take the next step fairly quickly, moving on to bigger clubs for rewarding transfer fees.
However, at 23 years of age, Mwepu has taken slightly longer to attract attention away from the Red Bull Arena, despite raising the eyebrows of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea last summer.
Headhunted before they knew it, Haaland and Upamecano managed just 33 appearances in total for the Austrian side before moving on to wealthier pastures.
Likewise, RB Salzburg only kept hold of Mane and Keita for two full seasons before their respective departures to Southampton and RB Leipzig.
Whilst it’s true Mwepu has taken slightly longer to showcase his talents to the rest of Europe, the 23-year-old has made gradual improvements each season with RB Salzburg and now arrives at the Amex a better-rounded central midfielder.
Despite operating as a physical box-to-box midfielder, Mwepu managed to notch ten goals and seven assists in all competitions last season, doubling his goal tally from the previous campaign in 2019/20.
Go back one more year, and Mwepu only managed to contribute two goals and three assists in all competitions, which statistically demonstrates the extensive improvements he has made, at least in an attacking sense.
Although his potential was scouted across Europe last summer, Brighton were sensible to wait another year to track his development and swoop in at the opportune moment.
By finalising the deal in early July, the board have successfully fended off competition from RB Salzburg’s usual customers; these European giants are currently scrambling to pen their first-choice transfer targets before the start of preseason.
Likely to rank as Albion’s second most expensive signing behind Adam Webster, the Mwepu signing encapsulates Brighton’s exciting growth as a football club in recent seasons.
Seagulls fans aren’t necessarily expecting a player with the quality of Eric Haaland, Dayot Upamecano or Sadio Mane to waltz into the Amex next season, but Mwepu certainly comes from a football club with a fantastic track record for developing talent.