Leicester Should Consider a Move for Ismaila Sarr

14 September 2020 12:15

When Liverpool travelled to Vicarage Road in February, the Reds still harboured hopes of completing the 2019/20 Premier League campaign unbeaten.

This was Jurgen Klopp's Reds at their footballing peak, not just irresistible on the counter but controlled in possession and stingy at the back. No one looked capable of defeating them. Except Atletico Madrid, obviously.

Watford, meanwhile, were deep in relegation trouble, starting proceedings in 19th position. Few if any gave the Hornets any hope of victory. 90 minutes later, Liverpool's dreams of an invincible season were over following a shocking 3-0 defeat.

It was a fine, collective performance by Nigel Pearson's side but in truth, the victory simply would not have happened without one man - Ismaila Sarr. Sarr not only grabbed a brace, but he was also a complete menace all game and gave Andy Robertson his toughest 90 minutes of the season.

For his first goal, the Senegal international darted in front of Robertson to tap in Abdoulaye Doucoure's cut back. It showed attacking awareness that defied his tender years, as well as the fact that he is supposed to be a winger. A true poacher's finish.

His second strike was even better. Racing onto Troy Deeney's through ball, Sarr left Virgil van Dijk - the best defender in the world - in the dust, before finishing with an audacious chip over Alisson. Not content with his brace, the former Rennes man then showed ice cold composure to return the favour, setting up Deeney who gladly made it 3-0.

Sarr had been attracting plenty of attention prior to this man of the match performance, but this was the night when his world class potential became apparent across the world.

He's clearly destined for big things and yet at the time of writing he is set to spend the season in the Championship thanks to Watford's untimely relegation. With all due respect to the most exciting league in the world, this seems a bit odd. Particularly when you analyse Sarr's performances over the entire campaign.

Baring in mind he was lumbered with a stodgy Watford side during his first ever Premier League season, Sarr's output was impressive. Blessed with frightening pace and plenty of trickery, dribbling is unsurprisingly one of his main attributes.

He averaged around five dribbles per game during the 2019/20 campaign and was fairly efficient. Sarr's success rate was shade over 50% - higher than the likes of Dele Alli, Christian Pulisic and Harvey Barnes.

Defenders often struggle to stop the winger when he is firing on all cylinders and he drew an incredible 98 fouls during his final season at Rennes in 2018/19. He was only fouled on 47 occasions last season, but that still made him the 21st most targeted played in the division. Impressive stuff, considering he completed just 22.5 90 minutes.

It's not only his direct running that causes problem. As his fine display against Liverpool showed, he also has the potential to develop in a productive player in the final third. Last season, five goals and four assists represented a solid start to life in England, but he could produce much more in the right system.

Step forward Leicester City. The Foxes are in need of some reinforcements out wide and Sarr could be exactly what they're looking for. Capable of playing on either flank, the 22-year-old offers far more than Ayoze Perez going forward and would add some much needed penetration to the Foxes attack.

As much as the deal makes good sense, one potential sticking point would be finances. Sarr became Watford's record signing last summer, arriving at Vicarage Road for a hefty £27m. There are currently four years remaining on his deal and with Leicester cutting their cloth amid coronavirus uncertainty, they would have to get inventive when financing any deal.

Throwing Islam Slimani into the mix is an option, particularly if Troy Deeney departs Hertfordshire. There could also be the possibility of hammering out a loan deal with an option to buy. That seems to be very fashionable these days.

Whatever the specifics, it's clear that Sarr is worth the hassle. Raw pace and inventiveness like his is unteachable and, under the right tutelage, the sky's the limit.


Source: 90min