Whether he is currently good enough for Real Madrid remains to be seen, but Liam Bridcutt has certainly got people talking - on a national scale, writes Craig Peters.
His quality has been evident and treasured by all Brighton & Hove Albion fans, particular over the past two seasons, when his game has developed significantly. And as one of those fans, I can tell you he has been one of the UK’s brightest footballing secrets up until now.
His performance against Newcastle in front of millions watching on TV had its pros and cons for Brighton supporters.
On one hand he completed one of the outstanding performances seen in an Albion shirt seen in many a year. On the other, it meant the secret was out; Liam Bridcutt, at 23 years old, is one of the rising stars of English football boasting outstanding qualities, significant footballing intelligence and a maturity on and off the pitch well above his tender years.
Bridcutt is breaking the mould. It’s not often a defensive midfielder outside the Premier League has the spotlight shone on his attributes - more often it is attacking players like Jordan Rhodes or Wilfried Zaha. And if the latter can find himself in an England shirt, I’m confident Bridcutt won’t be too far behind him.
In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he got an international call-up sooner than expected, if perhaps only for experience purposes, and became Brighton’s first England international since Steve Foster at the 1982 World Cup.
His mild manner off the field wins plaudits. Similar to Paul Scholes, Bridcutt, a quiet family man, appears shy of the limelight and speaks with a soft humility that makes him all the more compelling to the fan, his peers and indeed, management.
Some credit should be given to Chelsea, where he came through the youth system before signing professionally in 2007. But it’s been at Brighton, where he signed in August 2010, where he has really flourished, and a huge pat on the back must be given to Gus Poyet and the club for the way they’ve nurtured him.
Gus said post-Newcastle Liam was good enough for Real Madrid. While I do think this is a touch exaggerated, I wouldn’t put it past him to reach that level in years to come.
You know when you’re in the presence of something special and you feel that every time you see him play. Some people argue the’s too short; but for his position, I think he has everything – Claude Makelele was just 5ft 5. I took in my first Albion game in the mid-80s and I can safely say I’ve never seen anyone at the club better in his position, if in any position.
At The Amex we’ve been whispering his name for fear of losing one of the greatest holding midfielders - if not the greatest - to wear the blue and white stripes. Now the time has come for us to make some noise and show our pride about a special player and, if he does leave for pastures new, we can look back and say that Bridders will always be a Seagull.
Agree with Craig? Will Bridcutt make it big? Which other Championship players are destin ed for big things? Tweet Craig at @OspreyPR or email email@example.com
Want to be one of the Observer’s Talking Sport columnists? Email firstname.lastname@example.org