Aston Villa are reportedly showing the heaviest interest amongst a number of European clubs to sign the ‘next Sadio Mane’ in Pape Matar Sarr.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
According to reports in France, Aston Villa are the ‘most enterprising’ team in the hunt for the ‘next Sadio Mane’ (in terms of being the top Senegalese footballer), in 18-year-old Senegalese midfielder Pape Matar Sarr.
The multi-talented midfielder, who stands at five feet and nine inches, has received interest from across Europe, including the likes of A.C Milan after a stand-out season for FC Metz. Pape Matar Sarr is able to be deployed centrally both in deeper positions and more advanced positions, scoring four goals in 26 appearances in all competitions last season.
After joining from the Generation Foot Academy in Senegal, the midfielder has enjoyed a break-out season in the past year under Frederic Antonetti, and has family pedigree as his father was an international goalkeeper. His first coach, Mamadou Saer Barry, claimed that Manchester City had made enquiries about the player when he was under the age of 10.
Fans of youth football will recognise Sarr from the 2019 under seventeen World Cup, where the then 16-year-old impressed in the group stages. Since then, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Monaco were all offering prospective careers with them but Metz took their first-option up with the Senegalese academy – who they share close links with.
He has been likened to French wonderkid Eduardo Camavinga, due to the two youngsters sharing a wide-ranging skill set that mean they are incredibly versatile midfielders. He can be deployed in a more defensive role, operate as a box-to-box midfielder – with his statistics from the past season showcasing he could even be deployed as an attacking midfielder.
At the young age of 18, Sarr is obviously still raw and needs time to develop and learn if he is to reach his sky-high potential. Aston Villa will offer a pathway to the first team, and with Dean Smith’s record in developing players, the midfielder could find a move to Birmingham an exciting prospect.
He has already made his way into the Senegal senior squad, making his debut against Congo, a game that ended as a 0-0 draw. Former Aston Villa midfielder and compatriot of Pape Matar Sarr, Idrissa Gueye, has gone on record to state that the youngster is ‘the future of Senegal’.
Other interest is thought to have come from a number of other English teams, including Chelsea, Everton and Manchester United – whilst French sides Olympique Lyon and OGC Nice are also reportedly interested.
It is thought that a deal worth around £25,000,000 will be required to force FC Metz’ hand and allow Sarr a move – a hefty price for a raw talent. The club’s president Bernard Serin has mentioned that it would be ‘very hard to stand in the players way when a big club comes calling’.
An interesting link for Aston Villa – but one that could pose a potential risk.