Evan Ferguson’s breakthrough year in the English Premier League (EPL) has propelled the Irish teenager to become a wanted man both in England and Italy.
The Brighton & Hove Albion hot-shot, who started and scored in Ireland’s 3-2 success against Latvia in March, is being monitored by such major clubs as Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Italian giants AS Roma.
Ferguson’s impact for the Seagulls this term has resulted in such a meteoric rise that he recently put pen to paper on the English south coast, to extend his contract to 2028.
The icing on the cake for the Bettystown native’s remarkable season was bagging a brace in their recent 3-1 triumph over Southampton. This sealed European football for the first time in Brighton’s history.
He then outshined Manchester City’s attackers, including goal machine Erling Haaland, in their fast-paced 1-1 stalemate at the AMEX Stadium.
While it appears unlikely that offers will be entertained during the summer, Ferguson could be moving to a new club at the end of next season. This seems a spectacular rise for a player who only made his first EPL start at the beginning of 2023.
Manchester United are likely to be his favoured choice, as he used to support the club and his great uncle Damien was on the books at Old Trafford but never played a game. Old Trafford rumours consider Ferguson a bargain at £50 million.
The tenacious teenager offers more than scoring goals. He holds the ball up well with great touch, makes intelligent runs and is clinical when he gets his chance.
Having only been called up to the Irish senior squad for the first time in November 2022, his attributes offer Stephen Kenny a focal point to his Ireland team that has long been lacking.
Ferguson’s goals would totally transform Ireland’s fortunes as they tackle the EURO 2024 Qualifying campaign against France, Gibraltar, Greece and the Netherlands from June to November.
Showcasing his skills on the international stage means that an overseas move is viable. Should Jose Mourinho remain as AS Roma head coach, and not be allured by Paris St.-Germain, then the Portuguese could get the most of Ferguson.
Mourinho enhanced his reputation as the self-acclaimed “Special One” by brilliantly utilising such big and physical forwards as Tammy Abraham and Didier Drogba.
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Ferguson’s emergence is not sudden, He kicked off his passion to be a striker with the schoolboy club St. Kevin’s Boys in Dublin, then competed in the youth section for Bohemians and moved onto the National Underage Leagues.
His senior debut, as a 14-year-old substitute, was for League of Ireland outfit Bohemians when Dalymount Park welcomed Chelsea for a friendly in July 2019.
Fast forward 18 months and Ferguson had to decide between signing for either Brighton or Liverpool. He made his first team debut, as an 81st-minute substitute, in August 2021 and bagged his inaugural professional goal for Brighton U23 in November 2021.
With the bit between his teeth, he started to make in-roads from being a fringe player and in February 2022 made his EPL debut as a sub against Burnley. Six months later he found the back of the net for the Seagulls, in their EPL Cup success over Forest Green Rovers.
Going from strength to strength this season, Ferguson signed his first long-term professional contract at Brighton on his 18th birthday — 19 October 2022 — which ensured he was committed to the club until 2026.
He became both Brighton’s and Ireland’s youngest ever EPL goal scorer in their 4–2 home reversal to Arsenal on New Year’s Eve.
Even though Ferguson recently committed his future to the Seagulls, he remains on the radar of the top teams who are already preparing to tackle next season’s EPL.
Another feast of football from Ferguson appears on the menu for the 2023/24 campaign, wherever he kicks off the season, with both club and country wanting more than a slice of the luck from their Irish shining star.