Moises Caicedo is likely to dominate the final days of the England transfer window amid moves to Arsenal and Chelsea.
Brighton are determined to keep the Ecuador international but reportedly gave him time off on Saturday after publicly stating his desire to leave.
“I am proud to be able to bring in a record transfer fee for Brighton which would allow them to reinvest it and help the club continue to thrive,” Caicedo wrote on social media. “The fans have taken me to their hearts and they will always be in my heart, so I hope they can understand why I want to take this great opportunity.”
While Caicedo did not name the club he hopes to join, Arsenal are said to be willing to pay around $74m for him as the Premier League leaders look to boost their title bid.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta declined to answer questions about Caicedo on Friday but made it clear he was ready to strengthen his squad before the mid-season window closes on Tuesday.
“We were quite active in the market. We have some necessities,” he said. “If something else is available the club are willing to try if it’s reasonable and hopefully he’s a player who can improve our squad.”
On Friday, Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi announced his intention to keep Caicedo at least until the summer, having already sold striker Leandro Trossard to Arsenal for around $26m this month.
“I hope he can stay with us until the end of the season because I think it’s the best solution for him and for us,” said De Zerbi. “I spoke to him like a father, not like a coach. Because I understand when a player has the opportunity to change teams and go to a very big team. I understand.”
Chelsea have also been linked with a move for Caicedo, with reports the London club could be competing with Arsenal for his signature.
Brighton play Liverpool in the FA Cup on Sunday.
James Robson can be found at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports