Manchester United and Spurs have identified Brighton striker Evan Ferguson as a transfer target for the summer of 2024; Manchester City also interested in Republic of Ireland international; 18-year-old has scored 10 goals in all competitions this season
Manchester United and Tottenham have earmarked Brighton’s Evan Ferguson as a strong candidate to lead their line in the long-term and have laid down groundwork to pursue him next summer.
The 18-year-old signed a new contract at the Amex in April, which runs until 2028, to continue his development on the south coast.
It allowed Brighton to reward Ferguson for an outstanding breakthrough season in which he has scored 10 goals in all competitions, and also protect his value.
It has been told Manchester United’s academy director Nick Cox recently labelled the teenager a “£50m-plus mistake” after the club failed to secure him on youth terms during a trial, meaning they would have to fork out a substantial fee for him in the future.
Brighton believe if Ferguson continues his trajectory he can turn into a £100m player, a view echoed by at least two European sporting directors, one of whom likened the variety in the Republic of Ireland international’s game to Harry Kane.
Tottenham have not failed to notice that, and, in drawing up succession plans for their captain who is set to enter the final year of his contract, they have Ferguson front and centre.
One Manchester City source claimed Ferguson’s name has been discussed should Erling Haaland depart the club.
Ferguson celebrates scoring for the Republic of Ireland against Latvia in March
The level of interest in Ferguson is not startling despite his age and shortage of experience, given the maturity, composure and physical dominance of his play.
Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi has told Sky Sports News he has no doubt Ferguson “will become one of the best players and strikers in the Premier League”.
Roma manager Jose Mourinho is also an admirer.
Ferguson has been attracting European attention since the age of 14, when he made his debut for Bohemians in a friendly against Chelsea in 2019.
He went on trial with Liverpool, Manchester United, Everton and Celtic but felt his development would be best served at Brighton “where the pathway to the first team was obvious”.
There was the sheer power of the first, then the speed and precision of the second.
As Brighton secured European football for the first time in the club’s history with help from two Evan Ferguson goals against Southampton on Sunday, there was a celebration for what will be, but also a tinge of regret for what could have been.
If the kid who could become king had not been unavailable for nearly a month through an ankle injury, the south coast club are confident they would have had Newcastle and Manchester United fretting over a Champions League spot, while reaching the FA Cup final at the expense of the latter.
At just 18, the impact Ferguson has had during his breakthrough season both on Brighton’s attack and opposition defences has been pronounced enough for some sharp minds in football to declare he could develop into a £100m player.
No one involved in the Republic of Ireland international’s formative years would mark that as hyperbole. Those working with Ferguson now believe we are being treated to a live showcase of a Premier League great in the making.
Is that too much expectation and pressure on a teenager? An unequivocal ‘no’ is the response from those who know him best.