On July 25th, 2018, Brighton and Hove Albion completed the signing of Alireza Jahanbakhsh from AZ Alkmaar for around £17 million. For one reason or another, the Iranian attacker has failed to adapt to English football and now faces an uncertain future with the Seagulls. On talent alone, the 27-year-old is a top-flight-standard player, but he’s failed to deliver on the pitch at the Amex. So, let’s look at what’s gone wrong for Jahanbakhsh.
Competition for Places at the Amex
Having solidified their status in the Premier League following their promotion at the end 2016-17 season, competition for places at Brighton has recently reached new levels. Aside from Solly March and Jose Izquierdo, the 27-year-old also competes with Jakub Moder and Leandro Trossard for a place in the team. The latter, in particular, has established himself as a first-team regular under Graham Potter. As a result, Trossard is now in Belgium’s 26-man squad for the upcoming European Championships, and Die Roten Teufel are 6/1 to win the competition in EURO 2020 betting, as of May 25th.
While Jahanbakhsh featured in 21 Premier League games in 2020-21, the Iranian only started six matches. Unfortunately for the 27-year-old, his campaign was interrupted by injuries, suffering both hamstring and ankle problems throughout the season. Naturally, this denied the attacker having a significant on-field impact, and he ended the campaign with just one assist in 518 minutes, as per Transfermarkt.
Even though Jahanbakhsh is a versatile player, he only played 11 times from the right-hand side of the field in 2020-21. For AZ Alkmaar, he was most dangerous from the right flank, but Potter has experimented with the Iranian as a creative midfielder and striker, which has undoubtedly backfired.
Adapting to a Change of Manager
Aside from changes to the squad, Jahanbakhsh has also been a victim of managerial alterations at the Amex. Although Potter has given the Iranian opportunities, he signed for the Seagulls when Chris Hughton was at the helm. The demands of adapting to a new league and a change of management hindered the 27-year-old's progress, and that’s evident from his on-field output. According to FB Ref, the Iranian averaged 0.16 assists per 90 in the last year, which is significantly lower than his xA (expected assists) tally of 0.52.
In the Eredivisie, Jahanbakhsh was lethal in front of goal, scoring 21 goals in his final season with AZ Alkmaar. For Brighton, however, he’s become wasteful. Understat reports that, over the Iranian’s first three years at the Amex, he averaged 2.5 shots per 90. Despite his high volume of efforts, his xG90 (expected goals per 90) sat at just 0.16. By comparison, Trossard registers 1.91 strikes each game, and his xG90 is 0.21. This shows that while Jahanbakhsh is still getting to goalscoring areas, his end product has let him down in the Premier League.
Where Does Jahanbakhsh Go from Here?
Jahanbakhsh’s future at Brighton is currently up in the air. For a player that cost just shy of £20 million, he’s unquestionably failed to deliver. However, the statistics show that he’s still creating opportunities to score, even despite his limited minutes and injury problems. The Iranian isn’t a bad player, but a fresh start might be best for all parties.