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Neal Maupay: “I find myself by the sea, for someone from Nice, that counts!”

Speaking to L’Équipe, 22-year-old French forward Neal Maupay discussed his move to Premier League side Brighton which cost the Seagulls more than €20m.

You were being targeted by Aston Villa and Sheffield United, and in the end you joined Brighton. Why?

Two years ago, Brighton already wanted to sign me but I chose to sign for Brentford, in the Championship, because I wanted to play. But Brighton continued to follow me and when I knew that the club had changed manager, in May, to take the one from Swansea (Graham Potter), I told myself that this was maybe the right moment.

For what reasons?

Because I like a lot the way Graham Potter makes his teams play. With Brentford, I played three times against him last season – we lost three times – and I really liked the opponent’s style of play. I met him a few weeks ago, he told me about his project, the way he intended to use me. After this discussion, I was very clear with myself: I wanted to go to Brighton. And now, here, I find myself by the sea, for someone from Nice, that counts (in making a decision)!

Did you want to stay in England at all costs?

I would have had regrets if I never got to experience the Premier League but I did not want to make a random decision either. I was not going to leave Brentford, an environment that I knew perfectly, to go just anywhere. Since I began playing football, it has been one of my dreams to experience this league. It is the best in the world, the level of play, the atmosphere, the stadiums, nothing compares to it.

You are going to finally experience the Premier League and have the chance to test your level. Do you feel any pressure?

No not at all. To reach this point, there have been difficult moments, everything has not gone in a straight line but I think that I have improved in every way. I am not a different player but I think that I have got better. Now, I can’t wait to get going.

When are you going to get your debut?

I have not yet discussed that with the coach. I did all of the pre-season with Brentford but in agreement with the club I did not play in friendly matches in order to avoid an injury that could have compromised my transfer. I am certainly still lacking the rhythm of matches but I feel ready.

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