Chris Hughton insists Brighton can hold their own in the Premier League by targeting “middle market” signings while the big clubs flex their financial muscle.
Brighton have broken their club transfer record twice in one week to draft in Davy Propper from PSV Eindhoven and Club Brugge’s Jose Izquierdo, subject to medical and international clearance.
The Seagulls will host big-spending Manchester City for their Premier League debut on Saturday, with manager Hughton tipping Pep Guardiola’s men as strong title contenders.
Hughton has insisted Brighton must ignore any gulf in financial clout however, citing Burnley and Bournemouth as examples of how to carve out a Premier League niche on a budget.
“I think Manchester City be right up there challenging for the title,” said Hughton.
“It’s very difficult when you see the spending of some clubs in the summer, Manchester United of course and Chelsea who will be right up there.
“But with the quality City have got I would expect them to be very strong title contenders.
“Given the transfers, I think what you do is you try to assess almost a middle market.
“There are some transfers that have gone ahead so far that are so above our levels you almost have to disregard them.
“But what the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City can do, they can do that and good luck to them.
“It shows a real intent to want to be the best they can, win the title and ultimately of course it’s about the Champions League as well.
“So we have to disregard most of it, because it’s something that we can’t affect.
“But there’s no doubt that the level of transfer fees have increased dramatically.
“But they are for wonderful players, so good luck to them if they can do that.
“We probably have to concentrate on the levels that we can affect.
“For us there are some great examples of teams that have gone up and stayed up.
“So yes we’ll look at as many good experiences as we can do, and that’s for the whole of the season, not just the start.
“You’ve got to be able to overcome those difficult experiences that are going to come in this league.”
Midfielder Beram Kayal will miss the next two months with a broken leg.
Meanwhile, Guardiola claims there will be no immediate repeat of this summer’s lavish spending at Manchester City.
City have spent more than B£200million on a squad revamp following last season’s underwhelming campaign.
There have been five major new signings in Ederson, Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva and Danilo, and further additions have not been ruled out.
Guardiola said: “Hopefully next season I will be here and we are not going to spend how we spent this season. I assure you that.
“We finished the contracts of five or six players and in the last six or seven years Manchester City didn’t buy full-backs, so we had to buy full-backs.
“We bought three and the market is so demanding right now, for all the teams around the world, not just for Manchester City.
“We needed to do that this summer because it was one of the oldest teams in Europe, not just the Premier League. This group of players is going to stay for a long time at Manchester City.”
Guardiola also pointed out City were not alone in the high-spending stakes during a summer which has seen the world transfer record smashed with Neymar’s B£200.6million move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.
On the domestic front, Manchester United signed Romelu Lukaku in a deal that could amount to B£90million while Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton have also paid some big fees.
Guardiola said: “It is not just us. We spent, of course, but all the teams spent – except maybe Tottenham.
“We did it earlier, so we were lucky because now it would be so much more expensive with what has happened in the last weeks.
“That is why the club was clever to do that because we anticipated what we needed and we tried to do our best, not just for next season but the future.”
Guardiola’s side have been installed as title favourites but the former Barcelona boss is not taking anything for granted and anticipates a tough start against the Seagulls.
He said: “Last season we were favourites too and finished 15 points behind and, from my experience as a manager, always in the beginning of the season, the new teams are the toughest ones.
“I saw last season how tough the league is – it doesn’t matter who the top teams are. Every game is a battle, especially with the teams who arrive in the first four, five or six games – they are so complicated, especially away. It will not be easy but we travel to win the game.”