Brighton and Hove Albion technical director Dan Ashworth believes Ghana target Tariq Lamptey made the right decision in ditching giants Chelsea for the Seagulls.
Having developed through Chelsea's youth system since the age of eight, Lamptey took a brave decision to reject a contract extension at Stamford Bridge in his quest for regular first team football elsewhere.
The January move to Brighton has turned out to be one of the 20-year-old's best decisions as he has become a regular feature in Graham Potter's starting set-up at Falmer Stadium, churning out impressive displays week after week and becoming arguably the revelation of the season.
“I don't want to speak for Tariq, but I think it was a case of him wanting to go and play football, his pathway was blocked by a super, young player in Reece James who was in his position. Tariq thought he might need to look to play his football somewhere else," Ashworth said, as reported by his club's official website.
“We were lucky enough to take advantage of that and give him an opportunity to play.
“You can only play 11 people at a time, you can only give a pathway to a certain amount of people at a time and keep a certain amount happy," he continued. “This happens on a regular basis at all clubs, it just so happened that we had an opportunity where a couple of our right-backs were coming to the end of their contracts.
"[Ezequiel] Schelotto was out of contract and [Martin] Montoya was leaving," Ashworth added. “We had a space coming up and maybe we had a chance to give Tariq some games and exposure and he has taken it with both hands. You don't quite know what you have got with a young player until you chuck them in and give them a go."
Lamptey, who made his Premier League debut while at Chelsea, has so far made 10 appearances for Brighton this season, starting in all of the games, scoring once and providing one goal assist.
"I have known about Tariq from my England days. [Albion's head of recruitment and analysis] Paul Winstanley flagged him in the under-23s league. We knew that his contract was running down at Chelsea and we knew that they would offer him a new contract," Ashworth added, "but it was a situation where I guess he had seen Reece James who is a similar age, who is a top player by the way and an England right-back, blocking his path.”
Born to Ghanaian parents in the UK, Lamptey's eye-catching performances have erupted an international tug-of-war between Ghana and England, whom he currently represents at U-21 level.