You may have never heard of Tottenham’s new signing Pape Matar Sarr, but the teenage midfielder has what it takes to become a household name in the Premier League after joining for £14.6million.
The 18-year-old joined from Metz but has been loaned to his former club for the remainder of the 2021-2022 season to help him continue his development – although he is already showing all the hallmarks of a top player.
Sarr had become one of the most sought after players in the summer transfer window, with Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City alllinked with a move for the midfielder, with Spurs eventually winning the race.
He burst onto the scene in Ligue 1 last season – making 22 senior appearances after being promoted to the first-team in November. His call-up to Frederic Antonetti’s side came after one stellar performance for the reserve-team and proved to be worthwhile considering he contributed three goals in his maiden campaign.
Spurs completed the signing of Pape Matar Sarr for around £14.5m plus add-ons in August
It was Sarr’s confidence that caught the coaches attention. He is known for latching on to loose balls around the edge of the box and turning them into a goal-scoring opportunity.
The 18-year-old is also held in high regard for his aggressive ball-carrying technique. The youngster is capable of picking it up inside his own half and driving through to the opposition’s box in a matter of seconds. His goal against Montpellier in February was the perfect example.
Sarr took care of a loose ball just outside of his own box, carried it up the pitch and found his teammate before being given it back. The youngster then fired it home, placing it in the bottom right corner with a low half-volley.
In total, Sarr averaged 1.9 dribbles per 90 minutes in Ligue 1 last season – equalling Giovani Lo Celso’s total and bettering Moussa Sissoko, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Winks’ total.
It was clear that Sarr was responsible for the majority of Metz’s attacks last season – but it was not just his dribbling that gave his side the edge. His forward-thinking mentality made him a positive player that penetrated lines with his passing.
Sarr completed 85 per cent of his attempts last season – with 80 per cent of those coming in the opposition half. The midfielder also saw his creativity levels rise from 0.9 per 90 last season to 1.7.
Metz director Olivier Perrin compared Sarr to Miralem Pjanic and said he knew the youngster was going to be a ‘top player’ from the very moment he saw him play.
However, Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo (above) has decided to loan him back out to his former club, Metz, for the remainder of the 2021-2022 season
Sarr averaged 1.9 dribbles per 90 minutes last season – equalling Giovani Lo Celso’s total
He told Senego: ‘I immediately knew that Sarr was going to be a top player, with a very high level when it comes to reading and analysing the game. He is like Miralem Pjanic.’
Sarr has also picked up the nickname ‘Carlos’, in reference to the Brazilian superstar Roberto Carlos. Many believe Sarr has what it takes to replicate his sensational free-kicks.
Sarr was given the nickname during the 2019 U17 World Cup after he scored a superb free-kick to see Senegal win 4-1 over the United States. He then followed up such a strike with a stunning goal against Egypt at the Arab Cup the following year.
It may appear that Sarr’s ability has only come to light as of late. However, the youngster has actually been followed by scouts for years.
Having been born in Thiaroye, a suburb of the Senegalese capital Dakar, Sarr made his professional debut for Generation Foot – the same academy that developed Sadio Mane, Ismaila Sarr, Papiss Cisse and Diafra Sakho.
Manchester City kept tabs on the player from an early age and reportedly offered around £80,000 to sign him when he was nine years old. However, Sarr chose to stay in Senegal until 2020.
The 18-year-old also completed 85 per cent of his attempted passes last season in Ligue 1
Sarr has picked up the nickname ‘Carlos’, in reference to the Brazilian superstar Roberto Carlos (above). Many believes Sarr has what it takes to replicate his sensational free-kicks
Lamine Gueye, who trained at Generation Foot alongside Sarr, has said he is not surprised to such European giants taking an interest in his former teammate.
‘He is a really talented youngster who is very serious in training or during matches. He’s always been like that. He works hard,’ said the winger.
It is yet to be determined as to where Nuno Espirito Santo will play Sarr when he returns to Tottenham.
The 18-year-old’s father told L’Equipe that he sees his son playing as a ‘real number 10’. However, some of his best performances have actually come from several other positions.
Sarr featured as a central midfielder in the early days of his career and went on to play as an attacking midfielder. However, he has excelled as a defensive midfielder as of late.
Lamine Gueye (left), who trained at Generation Foot alongside Sarr, has said he is not surprised to see his former team-mate’s success – claiming he works ‘hard’ and is ‘very serious’
The youngster was in Metz’s top five players last season for the combined number of tackles and interceptions he made. Therefore, it seems likely that Nuno will utilise that skill set.
Perrin, who played a key role in the signing of Sarr from Generation Foot last September, believes his versatility is a desirable quality.
‘He can play in a system with two number 10s, he can be middle and box to box, he can be a 10, a six, it depends on the coaches,’ he said.
Speaking of his own preferences, Sarr told Metz’s official website: ‘I am evolving as a midfielder. In Senegal, I played as an 8, but here, I am used as a 6. I’m comfortable in both positions.’
Regardless of Sarr’s position, it is clear to see that the youngster has the potential to develop into a Premier League superstar.