Alireza Jahanbakhsh isn’t the first player to have scored goals in the Netherlands but then struggled to make an impact in the English Premier League. The likes of Afonso Alves and Mateja Kezman spring to mind. The quality of goals scored by the 26-year-old Iranian in the Eredivisie and glimpses of his undoubted quality that were displayed in the Premier League prior to lockdown, hint that Jahanbakhsh’s best could be yet to come for Brighton fans.
The Jirandeh-born player was hardly prolific in his homeland (0 goals in 12 apps for Damesh Tehran/10 in 44 for Damash Gilan) but really kicked on when he arrived in the Netherlands. 17 goals in 55 league appearances for NEC Breda caught the attention of AZ Alkmaar where he went on to score 34 goals in 85 league outings. During his time on Dutch shores Jahanbakhsh was recognised for his performances with a number of awards and was Eredivisie top scorer in the 2017-18 campaign with 21 goals as well as contributing a chunky 12 assists.
Adapting to life in England seems to have been difficult for the 50-cap Iranian but it’s clear that Brighton managers Chris Hughton and Graeme Potter haven’t made the most of his ability. There appears to be a lack of clarity around what Jahanbakhsh’s ideal role in the team is. His goal-scoring exploits in the Netherlands are the sort that you’d expect from an out and out striker but he’d starred as a winger which is where he’s tended to play for Brighton though often only fleetingly from the bench. Jahanbakhsh finally ended his goal drought by netting against Bournemouth before winning Goal of the Month for a spectacular overhead kick against Chelsea. As mentioned earlier, translating goalscoring feats from Dutch football to the English Premier League has a history of being a difficult task but the quality of goals produced by Jahanbakhsh both on the continent and in England have been the result of a high calibre of technical ability. Take a look for yourself…
In interviews Jahanbakhsh comes across as an amiable and relatable young man, one clearly admired by Brighton fans who know that talent lies within. In what is set to be a pivotal time in the history of Brighton & Hove Albion as they battle to stay in the Premier League, manager Graeme Potter would be well served to back Jahanbakhsh’s ability rather than leave him on the bench whilst sticking to some more conservative options. As with many attacking players, Jahanbakhsh may hope that the increase in substitutions allowed for the rest of the 2019-20 campaign will provide him with extra opportunities to contribute.
Still only 26 and with plenty of experience, good and bad, not to mention those fifty international caps that include six World Cup appearances, it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for such a talented player. Will he help keep Brighton in the top flight or continue to be a spare part? If they do get relegated then will he stay and fire The Seagulls back into the Premier League or possibly return to the Netherlands… or seek pastures new?
The quality is there and I sincerely hope that Brighton use it to maximum effect in the coming weeks!