Leon Balogun is relishing the competition for places at Brighton – and testing himself against some of the best attacking players in world football.
The 30-year-old joined Albion on a two-year deal from Mainz in May and then played all three games for Nigeria in the World Cup as they exited in the group stages.
Balogun made his first appearance for Albion in the 1-1 draw at Charlton on Tuesday evening and afterwards said he was going to give his all to get a place in the Seagulls’ starting line-up come the start of the Premier League season.
Lewis Dunk played all 38 league matches last season and centre-back partner Shane Duffy made 37 appearances, so Balogun knows he will have to earn his place in the team.
He said: “I’ll just put in my best and that’s all you can do. You have to hope that it’s enough but I can’t come here and say ‘I’ve played in a World Cup, I’m going to play from the start’, I have to earn it.
“That’s what I’m going to try to do.
“It’s always good to have competition. It will make those two better as well and in the end we just have to take the decision of the gaffer and respect that. But you have to be ready at all times.”
Balogun has already noticed how English football is different to his time in Germany, where he played for Hannover, Werder Bremen, Fortuna Düsseldorf, Darmstadt and Mainz.
He said: “It’s a lot more physical and sometimes it’s quicker. You have more quality individually here, especially in offence. But that’s what I knew from the Premier League.
“Whether it’s the wingers or the strikers, they’re strong, skilful, pacy and that’s going to be the biggest difference.
“The qualities of offensive players in the Premier League is amazingly high and it’s going to be an exciting challenge.”