England forward Palmer has shone at Stamford Bridge this season, registering 21 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League following a £40million move from Manchester City.

The 22-year-old is due to line up against Albion on Wednesday evening when Mauricio Pochettino’s Blues visit the Amex Stadium.

“We tried to bring him in the transfer market last summer,” said Seagulls head coach De Zerbi. “We thought he could be a top player.

“The qualities of Palmer are clear for everybody but not when he played in Man City. This season he is playing very well, he is scoring a lot of goals.

“He’s a problem for us tomorrow because he can start in the winger position and come inside or a number 10 as well. The quality of Palmer is very high.”

Palmer had made just three top-flight starts for City when he was allowed to depart for west London amid Albion’s interest.

He has since become one of the division’s standout performers – sitting behind only former team-mate Erling Haaland in the race for the golden boot – and could represent his country at Euro 2024.

De Zerbi is unsure how close Brighton were to pulling off a major coup.

“We spoke (about him) but we spoke about a lot of other players,” said the Italian. “I didn’t know the real situation, the real negotiation.”

Palmer’s most recent assist allowed Mykhailo Mudryk to open the scoring in Chelsea’s 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

De Zerbi managed Ukraine winger Mudryk at former club Shakhtar Donetsk and believes the player is beginning to deliver on his potential following a slow start to his career in England.

“I think it was tough for him changing country, changing the level of difficulty of the league,” said De Zerbi

“The competition inside of the Chelsea squad is higher than Shakhtar.

“But he’s a smart guy, he loves football and I think the management of the club, of Pochettino, has been right because now he’s playing very well and he’s a big, big talent.”

Brighton on Monday announced Adam Lallana will leave the club in the summer following four seasons in Sussex.

De Zerbi backed the former England and Liverpool midfielder to eventually go into coaching.

“We lose a great player, a great man,” said De Zerbi.

“I’ve been lucky to work with him because he’s an honest guy, a top man, and I learnt a lot from him because he loves football.

“He could be a coach because he understands football.

“At the beginning of my time in Brighton, he was one of the crucial players to introduce Premier League football, the different country, and I can’t forget that.

“We have spoken a lot together in my office about football in general, we spoke a lot about (Liverpool manager) Jurgen Klopp, the methodology of Jurgen, the ideas on football.

“We love football and, if you love football, you live in football.”

Joel Veltman has joined Brighton’s lengthy list of absentees. The defender was forced off by injury after scoring in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle.