Roberto De Zerbi gives the ‘diamond’ Estupinan a chance to shine

Roberto De Zerbi has insisted he is not afraid to give younger players their chance – and let them learn from their mistakes.

The Albion head coach is getting to know his side well and is nearing the end of a second full week of training with the entire group.

He has fielded the same starting XI in his two previous games.

And even the one change to Graham Potter’s final XI before his departure was forced due to Enock Mwepu’s serious health problems.

Under-21 defender Ed Turns has been called up to the 20 for the home game against Tottenham.

According to Lancing, the training sessions were very intense.

Of course, everyone will be out to impress, and one suspects that all of the tweaks so far have been just a taste of what’s to come.

De Zerbi was asked about some players in press conferences.

One was Pervis Estupinan, a player he described as a diamond in the rough.

The full-back is a veteran Ecuador international who has featured in a Champions League semi-final and in the Spanish top flight.

But at 24, he’s still on the way up – and “young” in terms of the Premier League.

Not that anyone told De Zerbi that of course Estupinan “doesn’t know the league”.

But he left us with an obvious follow-up question: How do you polish the diamond Estupinan?

The head coach replied through his interpreter: “Give him confidence, give him a chance to make mistakes.

“And of course giving him a chance to play.

“In Italy we talk a lot about young players, how they need to improve, how they need to grow.

But the only way to develop young players is to take risks and give them a chance to play on the pitch.

“You can only mature on the pitch.”

The original question was actually whether Leandro Trossard had room for improvement.

De Zerbi said he did – and that he wasn’t the only one.

He mentioned midfield pairing Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo as two with room to grow.

Then he said: “Estupinan is very young. He’s a diamond in the rough.

“We need to clean it and polish it and work on it.”

Estupinan could play at Brentford Stadium tomorrow, where predecessor Marc Cucurella made his Premier League debut earlier last season.

The fact that he doesn’t play a position the way many of us are used to may unsettle some fans.

We’ve seen that happen on occasion.

Bruno was a good example in his first season.

As for Estupinan, he offers a lot of athleticism and puts him in situations that others may not be able to match.

He’s also something of a hybrid – a full-back who plays like a full-back or vice versa.

He’s played fairly advanced so far, as Albion has lagged behind the three they’ve often used under Graham Potter.

(Although in his later appearances Cucurella was often found on the left flank of those three rather than as a full-back).

But it still feels like De Zerbi is only scratching the surface for now.

Not just from an Ecuadorian diamond, but from its entire task. As he’s said many times, he doesn’t need to make radical changes right away, and doing so could be counterproductive.

But, as he also mentioned – perhaps significantly – at his press conference last week, the reason why Tony Bloom and Paul Barber chose him was to bring football from De Zerbi to Brighton.

Not to be a copy of Potter.

So we’ll wait and see what happens next in terms of selections and tactics – with the added factor that Albion will enter a busy period with Friday, Tuesday, Saturday.

Regarding that left side, the big question is whether Kaoru Mitoma will continue or start as an impact sub.

To that end, it can be argued that Estupinan’s efforts have been underestimated by some.

But maybe that’s not the only decision.

Solly March has finished the last two games at left-back and De Zerbi has spoken about him and Mitoma working together on that cross.

Would that start with a back four?

De Zerbi seems to think March could play at left-back in this line-up, the way the Italian plays it.

There is still a lot to polish – and a head coach who does it without fear. Roberto De Zerbi gives the ‘diamond’ Estupinan a chance to shine

Fry Electronics Team

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