Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi is confident Moises Caicedo will return to top form following the January transfer window drama that saw the midfielder launch a failed campaign to join Arsenal.
Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace was the first time Caicedo started for the Seagulls since sharing his desire to leave Brighton in an open letter posted on social media.
He had been given time off until the close of the window, and was brought on as a second-half substitute in Albion’s 1-0 victory over Bournemouth.
“I think he played well but he can play better,” said De Zerbi. “For sure, in the last period he suffered this transfer market situation, but we wait for him because he is too important for us, no?”
Asked if it was a difficult decision to give the Ecuadorian the start at Selhurst Park, De Zerbi replied: “No. No. Caicedo is one of the best players for us. Not a problem, Caicedo. Caicedo is a problem if he plays for another football team, not for us.
“The problem was for Crystal Palace, not for Brighton.”
Pervis Estupinan thought he had broken the deadlock when he collected Pascal Gross’ cross and curled the ball into the top right corner, but a VAR check determined Brighton were offside in the build-up.
On Sunday, however, refereeing body the PGMOL admitted in a statement that “significant errors in the VAR process” were made in both Brighton and Arsenal’s contests, “due to human error and related to the analysis of offside situations”.
Estupinan did pick up an assist against Brighton’s historic rivals, earning the left-back plenty of praise from his boss after the match.
De Zerbi said: “He is very important in build-up but he’s becoming a complete player now. And our target is to help them, to help the players to become complete. They have to be able to play in every part of the pitch.
“They are able to understand the play. They are able to understand before to receive the ball, what is the next line pass open. And for this I’m very happy.
“I’m frustrated for the result but not only for the table for our fans, because we wanted to make them happy and we are sorry for this.”
Palace equalised when Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez bungled Michael Olise’s free-kick and James Tomkins nodded in the equaliser from inside the six-yard box.
Eagles boss Patrick Vieira was delighted to see his side fight for a point, despite the visitors controlling possession throughout the contest.
He said: “At times we have to accept the dominance of the opposition team and show a different quality, and that is what the team is about.
“Today I’m really pleased with the organisation we had, the hard work the team showed today, and at the end we scored that goal and I’m really happy for them.”