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Roberto De Zerbi compensation more than £12m as Manchester United weigh up Erik ten Hag future

Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi on the touchline at Fulham

Manchester United or other clubs looking at Roberto De Zerbi as a potential next manager will have to pay compensation upwards of £12 million to secure the Italian from Brighton in the summer.

De Zerbi, 44, has made a huge impact since arriving at the Amex Stadium last season and has admirers at United, where co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe is yet to publicly back Erik ten Hag, although they remain in the FA Cup and no decision has been made over his future.

It is understood that landing De Zerbi would cost a package of at least £12 million for him to be allowed to leave Brighton, where he has a deal until 2026 after signing at the club 17 months ago.

Brighton received £21.5 million when Graham Potter moved to Chelsea last season, which saw them move for De Zerbi. That figure included costs for Potter’s staff as Brighton looked to protect themselves from clubs at the top of the Premier League looking to swoop for talent on the cheap.

The costs for De Zerbi, while small in comparison to players, would be a significant sum for a manager in a market where clubs are reluctant to pay fees. It reflects how highly regarded De Zerbi is after cutting his teeth while coaching in Italian football and catching the eye at Sassuolo and then Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk.

He is expected to come into the frame across Europe for clubs looking at an elite manager to bring success. At Brighton, players have talked about him rehearsing how they play out from the back for hours, perfecting their style of play under the Italian.

His admirers include Pep Guardiola, who says De Zerbi is destined for a big club. He will get another chance to impress on the big stage this week with Brighton facing Roma in the Europa League.

“I’m sure Roberto can train in any team,” Guardiola said earlier in the season. “I don’t have any doubt. He can train Brighton and all the teams around the world. They are top, I was appointed as Barcelona’s first team coach from the fourth division with no experience. Doesn’t mean you have to be at top clubs to be manager of top clubs.”

Before Christmas, De Zerbi revealed he was in talks over a new contract at Brighton. “I usually work to be happy and to enjoy and I feel very good in Brighton,” said the Italian.

“I have a great relationship with the players, with the club, with Tony [Bloom, chairman], with Paul Barber [chief executive], with David Weir [technical director] and everybody who works in Brighton. Yes, we are speaking about the new contract but at the moment we are [only] speaking, it’s not done yet.”

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