Brighton and Hove Albion continue their preparations for Europa League football next season during a busy summer transfer window
Brighton defender Joel Veltman says Europa League football will be ‘crazy but fun’ as the Seagulls prepare for their first foray into Europe.
Veltman, 31, was a key figure for Brighton last season as they finished sixth in the Premier League and qualified for continental football for the first time in their history.
The Dutchman was a reliable and versatile presence in the Albion defence, playing mainly at right-back, but also in the center of defense as injuries took their toll on the Albion rearguard during a test campaign.
Veltman, who has Champions League experience at his old club Ajax, his contract expired this summer, but has now agreed to another two years at the south coast club. His experience will be vital as Roberto De Zerbi’s men balance European football and Premier League football next season, along with the FA Cup and Carabao.
“It will be intense, but very nice, because if you win on Thursday and then on Sunday, you get into the rhythm a bit and that can make the team stronger,” Veltman said on Albion’s website. “It can be a great journey.
“The gaffer wants to get as far as possible in Europe, so expectations are quite high. We don’t treat it as an aside from the Premier League, we want it as players too. The opportunity to play in both is a dream for us.”
Veltman is one of the best signings Albion have made since their promotion to the Premier League. The Netherlands international signed from Ajax in 2020 for a modest fee of £900,000 but quickly became a favorite with the Brighton fans for his dedicated and stylish displays. Veltman rarely puts a foot wrong, is comfortable in possession and excels in one-on-one defending. His performances against the likes of Jack Grealish and Wilf Zaha in recent seasons show the quality he brings to Albion’s line-up. “I’m very annoying to play against,” he said with a smile on one such occasion after kicking Grealish out of a game for the full 90 minutes.
Veltman adds: “We will play on Thursday and Sunday, so the program will be even crazier. The gaffer has already said that we need a big squad and everyone is on the same wavelength and ready to go because no one is going to play 60 games in the season.
“I’m 31 and I feel incredible and it’s great to get that opportunity in both the Premier League and now Europe at this stage of my career, and to sign for another two years.”
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