Brighton CEO Paul Barber could not resist aiming a little dig at Chelsea after the club repeatedly raided them over the last six months – though he would do business with the Blues again in the future.

Last summer, Chelsea raided Brighton to sign Cucurella in a deal worth an initial £55m and not long after he was joined by Graham Potter after the dismissal of Thomas Tuchel.

Potter took five members of his backroom staff with him while Kyle Macauley and Paul Winstanley also left the Amex for Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea then tried to raid Brighton again in January, making an approach for Caicedo, while they have also been linked with a move for Alexis Mac Allister.

Chelsea’s new owners have spent huge sums since taking charge, that’s around £600m, and Barber could not resist teasing his big-spending counterparts.

Speaking at the Financial Times’ Business of Football Summit on Thursday, the Brighton CEO said: ‘I am happy to pick up the phone to Chelsea anytime as well, absolutely fine.

‘Apart from when it’s for our coaches. I have told the cleaning staff to be careful, you never know, they may be head-hunted as well!’

He added: ‘In all seriousness, a club of our size can only really compete if we trade well.

‘All the other things football clubs should be doing anyway, we should be selling out our stadium, and getting the best sponsors. For us, Premier League revenue is really important, the TV revenue is critical to what we do.

‘The only way we can really compete and generate a profit for our owner is to trade well and that means finding players that other clubs are not finding, getting them from markets that are less developed and therefore cheaper, coaching those players well, developing them well and ultimately if they do well selling them on at a profit.’

He added: ‘Getting into the Premier League was really important; staying there was just as important, selling out the stadium was critical, getting global sponsors on board was very important.

‘Now we are into a mode where player trading is as important as any of the other things and that means we have to fish in different ponds.

‘We are never going to be able to compete with the biggest clubs in the world to find the best players or buy them at the top of the market. We have got to find players that are not yet developed, that we can develop, and then ultimately sell on.’

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