Moises Caicedo believes Albion can challenge for a Europa League place this season as he continues to thrive under Roberto De Zerbi.
The Ecuadorian midfielder’s ever present record in the Premier League was spoiled when he was suspended for last Saturday’s defeat against Arsenal, but he was restored to the line-up at Goodison Park on Tuesday, as we put the Toffees to the sword in a 4-1 victory.
It’s been a remarkable year for the 21-year-old who returned from a loan spell in Belgium with Beerschot last January and hasn’t looked back after making his first Premier League start in the 2-1 win over Arsenal in April. Although Graham Potter gave him his debut, he believes he has got even better under De Zerbi.
“I very much like the way he sets us up,” said Caicedo. “I like to have a lot of touches of the ball and he likes to pass through the central midfielders. If I can get 100 touches I will because I like the ball to go through my feet.
“Sometimes we go long when the opposition come and mark us closely, but it is very rare that he wants us to launch the ball. He wants us to play from the back and if it ends up as a goal he loves that – and us too. We are really enjoying it.
“Personally, I feel confident all the time, more so now after the World Cup. I’ve gained a lot more experience and that’s making me a player with a big profile. I’m enjoying every training session and every match.
“The team is improving every day with every game. You could see clearly at Southampton that we are more solid and that is very important because in every stadium we visit we are going to try to take the three points.
“We are having a great season with this coach and I am sure we are going to stay up there in the table. We are training very well, are very focused on every match and I’m sure we will take Brighton to a qualification place for the Europa League.”
If there has been a bump in the road for Moises it came in Qatar when he made his World Cup debut and scored his first international goal only for Ecuador to go out at the group stages.
“The elimination was very tough, it hurt me an awful lot to be honest because we deserved to go further. But football is like that and we need to keep working so we can be at the next World Cup if God allows.
“From a personal point of view, I’m happy because I debuted and scored in a World Cup at a young age, I did a lot of good things.”
Nonetheless, it has been a stellar 12 months for Moises, who has the company of compatriots Jeremy Sarmiento and Pervis Estupinan as he settles to life in Sussex.
“We are always together. We go to eat, training and the gym so the relationship is very good and we help each other.
“I always dreamed of playing in the Premier League and I enjoy it because the football is very fast and, for me and a lot of people, it’s the best in the world. I never imagined at this age I’d be achieving so much like playing at a World Cup and being a starter in the Premier League.
“Something incredible is happening to me and this team and I thank God because without him I’m sure this wouldn’t have happened. The road was hard and I fought a lot but I’m here, playing for a big team and helping my family a lot as well.”