Albion have bolstered their midfield with the addition of Zambian international and Champions League player Enock Mwepu, from Red Bull Salzburg.
Just three Zambians have previously appeared in the top English division, with Mwepu and Leicester-bound Patson Daka (also from Salzburg) set to take that total to five. Salzburg are also responsible for the development of Sadio Mane, Takumi Minamino, Naby Keita, Erling Haaland, Munas Dabbur and Kevin Kampl among others – all of whom have successfully left the Austrian outfit to ply their trade in Europe's top five leagues.
The 23-year-old has already appeared 20 times in the Europa League and Champions League combined, with StatsBomb's data on Mwepu's European performances over the last year strong evidence as to his style of play.
The Zambian ranks inside the top 1% of all attacking midfielders/wingers across such competitions for (per 90 minutes) pressures (27.2), tackles (3.6) and shots plus passes blocked (3). In the last Champions League, Mwepu was a Salzburg chart-topper across multiple metrics, evidence of his ability to influence the game both with and without the ball. He has been stylistically compared to Yaya Toure by a director at previous club Kafue Celtic.
Enoch Mwepu (‘98) ranked against Salzburg players in last season’s Champions League:— Albion Analytics (@AlbionAnalytics) July 6, 2021
🥇 166 pressures (53 successful)
🥇 16/28 dribbles completed
🥇 4 dribbles leading to shot
🥈 21 shot-creating actions
🥈 13/16 tackles won
🥈 13 fouls won
South-coast bound. 🇿🇲 #BHAFC pic.twitter.com/vo1OmNuQ5L
Of course, team styles must be accounted for as these influence player outputs, with Salzburg having the majority share of possession in 27 of their 32 Bundesliga games, romping their way to the title with 25 wins.
While boasting such combative defensive numbers, Mwepu is technically excellent, ranking inside the top 15% of his positional counterparts for passes attempted per game (51.5) and progressive passes (4.5). He ranks inside the top two-thirds of attacking midfielders/wingers for – per 90 minutes played – aerials won (1.2), non-penalty Expected Goals plus Assists (0.5), shot-creating actions (3.7) and shots taken (2.5).
Not only can Mwepu recover the ball, but he can provide a final third threat too. Impressively, across all club competitions in his career, Mwepu has been directly involved in a goal every 204 minutes, recording 24 goals and 24 assists in total.
From the season before last (19/20), Mwepu’s (‘98) @StatsBomb radar chart.— Albion Analytics (@AlbionAnalytics) July 6, 2021
High volume in pretty much every department, and as strong a ball carrier as he is a ball winner.#BHAFC pic.twitter.com/wVoi0RzWE1
SofaScore data has it that only two Salzburg players – Mergim Berisha (13) and Karim Adeyemi (11) – created more big chances in the Austrian Bundesliga last season than Mwepu (9), who can operate in the midfield pivot as well as out on the right flank.
Last season in the Champions League, only Mohamed Camara (11) attempted more midfield third tackles for Salzburg than Mwepu (9), with the Zambian recording more midfield third pressures (106) than any of his teammates.
Mwepu typically creates from central areas directly outside the penalty area and is capable of sliding teammates in behind opposition defences as well as combining with attackers to bypass opposition defenders.
Nicknamed 'The Computer' for his ability to read the game, Wyscout data has Mwepu clocking a quite ridiculous 5.6 interceptions per game. Adjusted for possession, the Zambian ranked inside the top 10 central midfielders (1,000+ minutes played) in the Austrian Bundesliga for interceptions in the 20/21 season.
In the highest pressing league in Europe, Mwepu will undoubtedly be a fun player to watch. The midfielder is used to being pressed, having made the most passes (52) under pressure of any Salzburg player in the Champions League last season, though he typically plays shorter, safer passes. He is ranked third among the Austrian Champions for most short passes completed (Champions League data) but ninth for long passes completed and he recorded zero switches of play.
One could expect Mwepu to thrive with direct-running wing backs to feed with forward, defence-splitting passes, while he could slot into Brighton’s successful pressing style with ease – only two Premier League sides could better the Albion's 31.6% of pressures leading to a turnover within five seconds.
Furthermore, Graham Potter's side ranked inside the bottom six of Premier League sides for dribbles leading to shots (33) last season, netting just once following a dribble, so Mwepu's ball-carrying abilities could offer something new.