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World Cup 2022 Youngsters to watch: Pape Matar Sarr

Can the out-of-favour Tottenham midfielder prove Antonio Conte wrong?

Name: Pape Matar Sarr

Age: 20 (at time of writing)

Position: Central Midfield

Place of Birth: Thiaroye, Senegal

National team career: 7 caps (0 goals)

Current club: Tottenham Hotspur

The former Metz man, who was scouted by Manchester City as a youth, already has over 50 top flight appearances to his name so far in his career, and despite Metz’ relegation from Ligue 1 last campaign he emerged with some credit still attached to his name.

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A box-to-box livewire, he is just as capable of providing the line breaking passes as he is winning tackles and duels, and could be a wildcard should Senegal spring a shock and prove successful in getting out of a group that contains The Netherlands, Ecuador and hosts Qatar.

Making his Metz debut in November 2020, at the age of just 18, Sarr has been deployed both as a defensive midfielder, an attacking midfielder and a box-to-box option in the two seasons since, though his five goals suggest that it is in his own and the middle third that he does his best work.

Likened to Miralem Pjanic, the six-foot tall midfielder has admitted that his own game has changed from his time as a youth prospect, telling the Metz website “In Senegal, I played as an 8, but here, I am used as a 6. I’m comfortable in both positions.”

He impressed enough in his first full season with Metz, however, that Tottenham pounced, fighting off interest from Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United in the process, all three of whom had been keeping tabs on the teenager.

Sarr was sent back to the Ligue 1 side to hone his craft before returning to Tottenham, where the expectation was to see him loaned out once more, only for Conte to choose to keep the midfielder with his first team squad, perhaps indicating just how highly the Senegal starlet is rated in north London.

When it comes to representing the African champions, he will likely be deployed in a box-to-box role, with fellow Premier League pair Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton) and Nampalys Mendy (Leicester City) seemingly above him in the pecking order to play at the base of midfield.

Should he be at his rampaging best for the Lions of Teranga, he could be a key asset for the African Champions.

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Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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