Soccer: Brighton's under the radar signing Gross proving his worth
By Pete Hall
(Reuters) - In an era where double digit transfer fees are commonplace, Pascal Gross's 3 million pounds ($4.06 million) switch to Brighton and Hove Albion is already looking like a bargain purchase.
The Premier League newcomers' first signing of the transfer window from relegated Bundesliga side Ingolstadt, just 12 days after their final game of last season, did not make many headlines.
Now, having been involved in all four of Brighton's goals this season, the attacking midfielder's opponents are starting to take notice.
"We've benefited from having him here early," manager Chris Hughton told Sky Sports after Brighton's win over West Bromwich Albion. "It's allowed us to work with him and for him to settle in. We're fortunate that he was one of our first summer buys."
Foreign imports often need time to familiarise themselves with the rigours of the English game, but a full pre-season has given Gross a head start.
However, it initially appeared that the Premier League might be a struggle for the 26-year-old.
A largely ineffective performance in the opening day defeat to Manchester City was followed by another disappointing showing against Leicester City, when he touched the ball just 35 times before being substituted despite covering a lot of ground.
Gross did not give up, and was the hero two weeks ago when he scored twice and provided another in Brighton's first top-flight win since 1983, over West Brom 3-1.
Another assist followed, in the defeat at Bournemouth, and playing the role of provider is no stranger to the German. No player in the Bundesliga created more chances for a team mate last season, which is even more impressive given Ingolstadt finished second bottom in the German top flight.
"You could see that against Bournemouth, when he set up the goal. He showed his composure on the ball and his strength," defender Uwe Huenemeier told Brighton newspaper The Argus this week. "That's what he is capable of, not just running."
Both running and creative ingenuity will be needed from Gross to unlock a resolute Newcastle United side, who have conceded just once in their last three games, on Sunday.
Should Brighton net a second consecutive home win, one can expect Gross to have played a part in that success.
(Reporting by Pete Hall; Editing by Christian Radnedge)