Roberto De Zerbi challenged Solly March to build on his scintillating recent form and establish himself as an attack-minded, goalscoring winger.
The 28-year-old has netted three times in Brighton’s last three Premier League games, including a brace in the 3-0 win against Liverpool earlier in January to take his tally for the season to a career-best four goals.
March has been one of the Premier League’s most improved players since De Zerbi took charge in September.
The Italian has used him in a more attacking role than was typical under his predecessor Graham Potter, and ahead of Sunday’s rematch with the Reds in the FA Cup fourth round at the Amex, De Zerbi outlined what he feels March needs to do if he is to develop into a consistent forward threat.
“Attack the space better,” he said. “To start to come inside, to keep the ball. Possession, for example, is an improvement he has to make. To shoot more (often) on goal.
“The other 10 players have to improve to give the ball (to him) in a clear way, to put Solly and (Kaoru) Mitoma in good condition to try one-to-one, to attack the space. The improvement of one player depends on him, but also on the other 10 players.
“I would like it if every player scored 10 goals (a season). But I think it’s too difficult. It’s a challenge. I want to say only realistic things. For this I think Solly March, Mitoma, they have the potential to score more goals, for sure.
“I like the players that stay inside of the pitch, number nine or number 10, who play with a midfielder. I love wingers who attack the space, who try one-to-one.”
The pressure on March to continue his recent form increased on Saturday after Brighton told Moises Caicedo to take time off following a public declaration that he wants to leave the club before Tuesday’s transfer deadline.
The 21-year-old has been the subject of a bid from Arsenal but the club are steadfast that he will not be sold before the summer.
Nevertheless, he has been asked to stay away from training until after the window closes.
It leaves De Zerbi looking for different options for the visit of Liverpool, with the possibility of Tariq Lamptey returning to the starting line-up for the first time since the defeat to Arsenal on New Year’s Eve, after he impressed as a late substitute against Leicester.
“Tariq is an important player for me,” said De Zerbi.
“OK he’s not playing a lot. But he’s still a very important player. We are (making) progress in terms of squad, in terms of players. To play in the first XI in Brighton, it’s difficult to find a place to play.
“In his position, full-back, we have Lamptey but we have (Joel) Veltman, another very good player. We discovered Pascal Gross (can play full-back). I want him to stay with us. He has to keep patient, and his moment to play will arrive for sure.
“He played against Arsenal. It was a very important game, very difficult game. And for this, I showed I have a confidence in him. But the decision of the first XI can change depending on the opponent, depending on the moment, how I imagine the game.”