Brighton are at advanced stages of a deal to sign Moises Caicedo from Independiente de Valle.
Last week, reports in Ecuador suggested the 19-year-old was set to seal his move to Manchester United.
The Ecuadorian team general manager has reportedly said “everything is closed” with a Premier League club and will make an announcement in the coming days.
The fee for his transfer is said to be £ 4.5million and the deal includes a clause that will allow Independiente to recover a significant percentage of all selling costs.
There have also been talks about his arrival at Belgian club Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, which is also owned by Brighton owner Tony Bloom, on loan for the remainder of the season.
With the opening of South American markets to British clubs after Brexit, Caicedo had been spotted by many players in the Premier League, including Man Utd.
At just 19 years old, Caicedo already has four caps for Ecuador and has played the majority of minutes for his club in the Copa Libertadores and the Ecuadorian top flight in 2020, so would be confident of getting a work permit.
‘United’s loss is Brighton’s gain’
South American football expert Tim Vickery believes Manchester United will regret not following through on their interest in Caicedo.
In October, Caicedo became the first player born in the 21st century to score in CONMEBOL’s World Cup qualifying with a goal in Ecuador’s 4-2 victory over Uruguay.
Vickery said: “This time last week I was telling you it would be Man United based on what Ecuadorian sources were saying. So you will forgive me if I refer to my default position of making a prediction after the event. because they tend to be more precise.
“But if it’s Brighton, Manchester United’s loss is Brighton’s gain.
“They (Brighton) will have an absolutely formidable player. Independiente de Valle [are] a small club that exists to develop players to sell them. They call on young top Spanish coaches to develop their players.
“In 2020 you saw the good formation of Moises Caicedo. Entered the first team … breeze. Entered international football with Ecuador … breeze. He faced Argentina, Uruguay and La Colombia and it looks easy.
“Box-to-box midfielder, formidable athlete, cool in possession. He’s no wizard, he’s not a glamorous player but has so much to offer.
“If I had enough money, I would buy it myself and put it on my fireplace.”