How Liverpool's James Milner gave a Premier League wake-up call to Yves Bissouma
Many Albion fans never expected Yves Bissouma to reach the 100 match milestone for his club.
Bissouma, 25, was superb in the Premier League last season as Graham Potter’s team secured a fifth consecutive season in the top flight.
His performances grabbed the attention of the football giants from across Europe and Albion were bracing themselves for large bids to arrive for the Mali International.
Bissouma’s agent added to the speculation by saying there was “significant interest” in his client with Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Real Madrid all linked to Albion’s star.
Brighton however had just sold Ben White to Arsenal for £50m and were in no hurry to see their other prize asset depart as well.
They held firm, Bissouma stayed, and their midfielder has been driving force Albion’s decent start to the season, which has them sixth on nine points from four matches.
Against Brentford last Saturday Bissouma was once again excellent in his 100th appearance for the Seagulls.
“I am very proud and happy,” said Bissouma, who joined Albion for £15m in 2018 from Lille.
“It’s been a long time of working hard. It’s down to everyone at the club, I want to say thanks to those people and to the club, it’s amazing to be a part of the best league in the world.
“When I came here I was 21 and now I am 25, so I have matured as a person and in my game. I learned a lot of things in those early years.”
The intensity of the Premier League came as quite a shock to Bissouma, who started his career with Malien Première Division club AS Real Bamako.
“When I came to England I thought it was going to be like playing in France, but it’s not the same – the intensity is on a different level.
“In my second game we played against Liverpool, I received a pass, I controlled it and wanted to turn, but [James] Milner tackled me and Firmino played Salah through, he scored and we lost 1-0!
“After that, I said ‘Biss, you have to work hard! You have to change your game and adapt’, that’s what I have worked on. I am a lot better than when I started here. I know what I can do – a lot has changed.”
Bissouma has also scored his fair share of spectacular goals, none more so than his outrageous long-range strike in the FA Cup against Blackpool last season.
“I don’t know why they’re so good, maybe it’s God! When I scored against Blackpool at half-time the goalkeeper came to me and said ‘your shot was amazing!’ Three of the Blackpool players came up to me at the end and said ‘bro, how do you score like that?’
“Things like that give me confidence to score good goals.”