Brighton & Hove Albion have successfully sealed a move for Nigerian defender Leon Balogun on a free transfer. According to recent reports, the Seagulls have completed the signing of ex-Bundesliga defensive ace, who was a free agent, after being released by Mainz recently. It is believed that the Nigerian international has penned a two-year deal with Chris Hughton’s side following his departure from German football at the end of last season.
The 29-year-old missed out on the last FIFA World Cup in 2014 but has been named in Nigeria’s preliminary 30-man squad for this year’s World Cup which is all set to kick off in Russia next month. In a recent interview, Brighton manager Chris Hughton expressed his delight after signing Balogun and was quoted to have said, “Leon will add more depth to our defensive options,”
“I am pleased to get our first piece of business done so early in the summer. He is in the peak years of his career and I am sure he will integrate well into the squad.
“He also has valuable experience, having played in the Bundesliga, the Europa League and at international level.”
The Berlin-born defender had made 15 appearances for Mainz last season but failed to register a goal during the course of the campaign. He also has 14 international caps for the Nigerian national team so far in his career. Balogun will definitely strengthen the Seagulls’ backline next term but whether he can regularly feature in Hughton’s first-team remains to be seen.
Brighton managed to claim a strong 15th placed finish in the English top-flight last season. However, Hughton will be aware that he needs to make some clever additions during this summer transfer period if his side are to avoid getting themselves dragged into a relegation dogfight next year.
The addition of Balogun will definitely bolster their defensive options ahead of the new season. The Seagulls have the likes of Lewis Dunk, Shane Duffy, Connor Goldson, Bruno, Liam Rosenior, Ezequiel Schelotto and Gaëtan Bong competing for a starting berth in Hughton’s senior side. The potential acquisition of Balogun will undoubtedly add more competition for places within Hughton’s squad and improve their team in the upcoming campaign.
The Nigerian defender is highly versatile and can operate anywhere across the backline. The 29-year-old primarily operates as a centre-back but can also be deployed on both full-back positions which makes him an ideal fit for the Seagulls. Only time will tell what lies ahead in the future of Balogun and whether his time at the Amex Stadium turns out to be a success in the coming years.