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Brighton

Enock Mwepu: Things to know about Brighton's new £22m midfielder

Scott McCarthy
Enock Mwepu has completed a move to Brighton said to be worth a club-record fee of £22m
Enock Mwepu has completed a move to Brighton said to be worth a club-record fee of £22m / Andreas Schaad/Getty Images
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Brighton have completed their first signing of the summer, splashing a rumoured club-record fee of £22m to bring in Zambian midfielder Enock Mwepu from Red Bull Salzburg.

The 23-year-old has been tracked by some of the biggest clubs in Europe, including Liverpool, thanks to his performances in an all-conquering Salzburg side, as well as shining on the biggest stage in the Champions League.

It is the Seagulls though who have swooped to bolster their options in the middle of the park, where Graham Potter has no shortage of quality at his disposal with the likes of Yves Bissouma, Pascal Gross, Adam Lallana, Jakub Moder, Steve Alzate and Moises Caicedo.

So, what can the Premier League expect of the second Zambia international to arrive on English shores this summer after Patson Daka at Leicester City? Here are seven facts about Mwepu.

1. Mwepu played in six different positions during his time in Austria

Red Bull Salzburg manager Jesse March and Enock Mwepu
Salzburg manager Jesse March used Mwepu in multiple positions / Markus Tobisch/Getty Images

The most striking thing about Mwepu is how versatile he is. During his time with Red Bull Salzburg and their feeder club FC Liefering, he played in - deep breath - attacking midfield, central midfield, holding midfield, left wing, right wing, right back and centre back.

Even more impressive than the sheer number of roles Mwepu can fill is his ability to adapt his game to play each one. He has scored 14 goals and claimed nine assists from 37 outings on the right, a return that most genuine wingers would we pleased with.

When used through the middle, Mwepu switches his focus to supplying rather than netting himself. 11 assists from central positions shows that he has the eye for a killer pass as well as a goal.

2. His nickname is The Computer

Enock Mwepu celebrates for Red Bull Salzburg
Mwepu is known as 'The Computer' / Markus Tobisch/Getty Images

On the surface, 'The Computer' might just be the most ridiculous nickname of any player in world football right, let alone the Premier League. Mwepu wears the moniker bestowed upon him by his fellow Zambians with pride though.

It refers to his aforementioned ability to compute what is needed in the multiple positions he finds himself being deployed in, his intelligence in tight spaces and the way he can see a pass and make it long before anyone else.

3. Mwepu burst onto the scene at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup

Zambia celebrate scoring against Italy at the 2017 Under 20 World Cup
Zambia celebrate scoring at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup where Mwepu first made a name for himself / JUNG YEON-JE/Getty Images

Mwepu first burst onto the scene with his performances in the Zambia side which brought so much excitement to the 2017 Under-20 World Cup held in South Korea.

Zambia qualified by virtue of winning the equivalent Africa Cup of Nations tournament and they soon showed that they were not at the main event simply to make up the numbers.

After winning Group C ahead of Portugal, Costa Rica and Iran, Zambia pulled off arguably the biggest shock of the tournament by eliminating Germany in the second round. Mwepu was on target in that famous win.

Zambia eventually fell to Italy in the quarter finals. On a personal level, Mwepu came away from South Korea with two goals, two assists and a move to Austria in the bag.

4. He has enjoyed a trophy-filled time in Salzburg

Enoch Mwepu and his Patson Daka won the Bundesliga and OFB-Cup with Red Bull Salzburg in 2020/21
Mwepu and his fellow Zambian Patson Daka with their 2020/21 Red Bull Salzburg trophy collection / KRUGFOTO/Getty Images

Mwepu received his first call up to Red Bull Salzburg from Liefering within a year of his arrival in Austria, making his full debut for the parent club in April 2018. It took him just three minutes to claim an assist and there has been no looking back since.

Following his debut, Mwepu played a small role in helping Salzburg win the 2017/18 Austrian Bundesliga title, making eight appearances towards the end of the campaign in which he scored once and made a further assist.

Over the course of the next three season, Mwepu became one of the most important players as Salzburg won the Bundesliga and OFB-Cup double in 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21.

That most recent Austrian Cup triumph saw Mwepu score in the first round, the second round, twice in the semi-final and in the final when Salzburg breezed past LASK 3-0. With four assists in the cup run, Mwepu did more than anyone else to help his side to their eighth triumph in the competition.

5. Mwepu caught the eye of the English in Europe

However impressive Mwepu's performances in Austria have been, it is in Europe where he has really caught the eye.

He made such an impression against Liverpool when Salzburg were paired with the Reds in the Champions League group stage in 2019/20 that the Anfield hierarchy considered his credentials as Georginio Wijnaldum's successor in their midfield engine room.

In the 2020/21 season, no player made more successful pressures than Mwepu in Europe's elite competition. He has also shown that he can mix pressuring with creativity to good effect, racking up four assists in 11 Champions League career appearances.

6. Zambia's presidential candidates are supporting Mwepu as a vote-winner

Enock Mwepu
Mwepu has received messages of support from the two main Zambia presidential candidates in the general election / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Zambia goes to the polls in its general election on August 12 and the two main candidates were both quick to tweet their congratulations to Mwepu on his move to Brighton.

President Edgar Lungu was first to wish Mwepu well, saying: "Join me in congratulating Enock Mwepu on his signing with Premier League side Brighton. You have done the nation proud and be assured that we will all be rooting for you all the way as you lift our national flag high.”

He was quickly followed by his closest rival Hakainde Hichilema, who tweeted: "Congratulations Enock Mwepu, ‘Computer,’ on your move to Brighton and Hove Albion. This marks another milestone for us as a country. We trust that you will be an able ambassador and open more avenues for other Zambians to join these ranks. This coming EPL season will be lit!”

Whether Lungu, Hichilema and the rest of Zambia will be feeling so 'lit' when they are watching the Seagulls draw 0-0 with Brentford despite racking up an xG of 3.73 next remains to be seen...

7. Brighton signing Mwepu may open the door for the sale of Bissouma

Yves Bissouma
Bissouma has been linked with a move away from Brighton / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Brighton fans were not the only ones celebrating the arrival of Mwepu at the Amex. Arsenal and Liverpool have both been heavily linked with a big money summer move for Bissouma and the Seagulls may be more willing to listen to offers now that they appear to have signed a ready-made replacement.

£50m is the fee being quoted for Bissouma and if Brighton can get close to that for him having forked out £22m for Mwepu, this whole transfer chain would represent excellent business for them.

Should Mwepu meets expectations, he might well become every bit as good as Bissouma with Brighton better off to the tune of £28m. That money can then be reinvested where the Seagulls really need it - on a clinical striker to end their xG nightmare.

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