Albion’s last friendly started with us all talking about an exciting talent whose roles include left-back.
Leandro Trossard ensured that the 5-1 win over Espanyol ended the same way.
It seems a long time since one of Graham Potter’s weekly press conferences alluded, almost jokingly, to Trossard playing at full-back, albeit on the right, for Belgium.
HOW BRIGHTON BEATS ESPANYOL 5-1
Graham Potter’s almost dismissive response was that it would take a great deal of wealth to play Trossard in such a role.
Well it’s happening – and with Marc Cucurella absent, Trossard used that platform from a fairly wide starting position to complete a 14-minute hat-trick in this dress rehearsal.
Just as he scored goals at Arsenal and Tottenham last season.
The irony is that at some point last season Trossard was pushed into a more central role in order to get more goals from him.
This wide number puts him in a good position.
And on Saturday, the quality and serenity of the results matched what we saw at times late last season.
A perfect volley, a pass into the long corner and a clever slit into the short corner made sure of that.
The fact that he’s scoring more goals from distance seems counterintuitive, but it’s working.
Potter said, “It’s a bit what he thought, too.
“He wanted to play centrally and you sometimes get that feeling, but actually he’s really good over wide areas.
“He gives you an option because he can play indoors, he can go wide in the middle with his right foot.
“Sometimes when you have equilateral players in those positions, it’s not that easy to play centrally from there.
“So you end up on the sides, which is fine. It’s just a different way of attacking.
“He gives you that and if he scores goals it’s a bonus.”
As a full-back, it’s tempting to say that Trossard is more a winger than a defender.
Actually, he is sometimes more left than wing.
The old idea of a full-back or attacking full-back going wide, overlapping everyone and then wiping the chalk off his shoes no longer applies.
Not always, anyway, although he and Solly March can both do it.
March’s vision and death temporarily made room for Pascal Gross and Joel Veltman outside of him.
Gross and March have a particularly good understanding of what is reminiscent of Bruno and Anthony Knockaert on this site a few years ago.
Trossard likes to drift into the field and there was one instance where March emerged almost as the old-fashioned No 9 with a header around the penalty spot when he was hit by a cross.
Potter said, “Yes, of course they make those moves, but the balance is that they also have to do the defensive side of the game.
“And as a team we have to make sure we can cover for these guys because they are more attacking.
“They also make a contribution defensively, that’s a good thing.”
March has long been regarded as Albion’s most defensively hard-working winger.
But he’s not a full-back and there was an opportunity, for example on Saturday, when Ruben Sanchez easily got past him and entered the penalty area.
Moises Caicedo rushed over to clean up.
Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister, whose passing and touch once again impressed, speak the same language in more ways than one.
They developed an understanding in the preseason and are expected to be the engine room of this squad when the Prem campaign begins.
Potter said: “You have to balance it out somehow and these two read the game well.
“Moises does that really well for a young player and makes key interceptions and tackles and obviously the back three provide that support. So it’s about finding the balance.”
Albion’s form, balance and understanding allowed them to outplay an Espanyol side who are busy in pre-season and weren’t at their full strength here.
Enock Mwepu played well in front and both he and Danny Welbeck probably should have scored in the first half.
Albion led at the break with Adam Webster’s header down from Gross’s corner.
Lewis Dunk’s header from a Trossard cross opened the floodgates of the second half.
Then Trossard took over – with a right-footed volley as the ball fell to him, a step inside and a lateral foot finish, and then a shot into the near post after Adam Lallana played down the right flank at Marchs after a great play cut-back had helped .
Robert Sanchez had already made a good save from a close-range header to his left when he was beaten one-on-one by Joselu for Espanyol’s reply.
Albion will watch as the talented Sergi Darder had time to thread a clever pass that knocked out the home defense and set the striker clear.
There is still work to be done in anticipation of league tests that will be far tougher than Espanyol’s.
Trossard may not even start as a full-back at Old Trafford.
Albion has others who can operate there, as the people of Manchester well know.
But the Belgian is a good option for the long season ahead.
Whether Cucurella is still there or not.
Albion: Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Webster (van Hecke 72); March (Lamptey 72), Mac Allister (Alzate 69), Caicedo (Sarmiento 77), Gross (Mitoma 72), Trossard (Maupay 72), Mwepu (Lallana 55); Welbeck (Undav 72). Unused Subs: Scherpen, Enciso, Steele, Duffy, Clarke.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/sport/20591266.leandro-trossard-relishing-role-brighton-set-up/?ref=rss Leandro Trossard is enjoying his role in the Brighton set-up