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Albion ace Will Buckley has signed a new four-and-half-year contract.

The influential winger’s deal was due to expire at the end of next season but the Seagulls have now tied him down until June 2017.

Buckley has been in scintillating form since signing from Watford for £1 million two summers ago, sparking fears he could attract interest from Premier League clubs during the January transfer window.

Boss Gus Poyet told The Argus: “This is a clear indication that we are doing everything possible to keep our best players and Buckley has been one of them. He had 18 months left on his contract and we want him to stay with us, because we believe in our project and the future.

“When we signed him he was a very good prospect with many qualities. We have worked with him and he has improved a lot in the last 18 months. He is going to get better and better so I am delighted with the agreement and that he is happy at the club. I think it sends a nice message to everybody.”

Buckley, 24, scored eight goals in 35 outings last season, including a late double to turn defeat into victory in Albion’s historic first match at The Amex against Doncaster Rovers.

He has already hit five goals in 20 appearances this season and has been frightening Championship defences with his pace and directness down the right flank.

In November, after he teased and tormented Leeds, Poyet claimed Buckley is better than Crystal Palace’s £10 million rated England newcomer Wilfried Zaha and insisted he was not for sale at any price.

Buckley said: “I’ve played my best football at Brighton so it was a no-brainer to place my future here, playing in front of massive crowds now week in, week out.

“That’s why I came to the club, to stay here for the long-term, so it was quite an easy decision.

“I am just glad it’s all sorted now. It got sorted out quite quickly as well. Once Brighton offered me the contract it was only a matter of weeks before we reached agreement.

“It takes a bit of focus off contracts and stuff and now I can just concentrate on playing. Speculation can be unsettling, although it doesn’t really faze me too much.”