Sarr could become Fabio Paratici’s latest signing at Spurs (Photo: Getty)
Apart from the occasions where he is animatedly berating officials from his perch on the substitutes bench, Tottenham‘s managing director Fabio Paratici has rarely been seen without his mobile phone glued to his ear since joining the club this summer.
Paratici has been relatively busy so far, bringing Cristian Romero, Bryan Gil and Pierluigi Gollini to north London, while sanctioning moves elsewhere for Toby Alderweireld, Joe Hart, Erik Lamela and Paulo Gazzaniga. (Juan Foyth and Danny Rose’s departures pre-date his arrival.)
With rather large question marks hovering over the future of Harry Kane and Tanguy Ndombele, Paratici will no doubt be spending many more hours chatting away to his contemporaries around the continent between now and the end of the transfer window.
In terms of incomings, the Italian has clearly prioritised the signing of younger players this summer with all three new recruits aged 26 or under and he is on the cusp of adding another highly-rated prospect in the form of 18-year-old midfielder Pape Matar Sarr from FC Metz.
Metz’s president Bernard Serin says he has a verbal agreement with Tottenham to sell the teenager, but that would be contingent upon him spend the first of year of a proposed six-year deal on loan back with Metz in Ligue 1, the logic being that he will spend a full season in their first-team rather than playing a bit-part role under Nuno Espirito Santo.
Spurs struck a similar deal with MK Dons for Dele Alli back in 2015 and it worked well for all parties on that occasion as Alli played his part in a promotion-winning season to the Championship, before linking up with Spurs and slotting straight into Mauricio Pochettino’s starting XI.
Sarr could even end up competing with Alli for a slot in Nuno’s midfield three in the box-to-box role that the England international has occupied so far this season. Sarr has predominantly played as a part of a central midfield three and occasionally in a two but has also been utilised higher up the pitch as a No 10.
Olivier Perrin, a youth coach at Metz who played a key role in the signing of Sarr from Generation Foot in his native Senegal last September, believes he has the quality to play in a number of roles and positions in the middle of the pitch.
“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.
Such versatility suggests that Sarr has a well-rounded skill-set which is promising for one so young. The teenager is a quick and graceful runner with the ball at his feet and averaged 1.9 dribbles per 90 minutes in Ligue 1 last season, the same rate as Giovani Lo Celso and higher than Moussa Sissoko, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Winks.
Sarr scored three times in 22 appearances for Metz last season, including one against Montpellier which shows why he is so highly regarded. Sarr latches onto a loose ball just outside his own box, carries the ball up the pitch and finds a teammate before firing a low half-volley into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Sarr has impressed since breaking into the Metz starting XI (Photo: Getty)
He’s a tidy passer too, completing 85 per cent of his attempts last season – 80 per cent in the opposition half – and has upped his creativity levels from 0.9 per 90 last season to 1.7 so far this, albeit in an admittedly small sample size. Sarr gets through plenty of work off the ball too, attempting 3.6 tackles per game in 2020-21.
Clearly, there is plenty for Espirito Santo and his coaches to work with if Paratici succeeds in luring Sarr to north London. And with Ndombele agitating for a move elsewhere, a potential option could be to mould him into an advanced playmaker to release Tottenham’s speedy counter-attackers on the break.
Both Manchester clubs and Chelsea have been linked with the Senegal international but Spurs appear to be in pole position at this stage given Metz’s president Bernard Sarin claims to have a “verbal agreement” with Daniel Levy.
Presumably, given Sarr’s potential, Levy will be more open to honouring this agreement than the one he struck with Kane last summer.