Pape Matar Sarr has had a rough season at FC Metz this season, and while it’s expected he won’t be there for another year on loan, there are a ton of questions marks surrounding how he can impact Tottenham Hotspur sooner rather than later.
Spurs purchased then 18-year-old Pape Matar Sarr last summer for a fee around €20m (£16.7m) and then promptly loaned him back to the French side. Multiple clubs were circling him but Spurs’ willingness to loan him back for the season was ultimately why they won the race. At the time, Spurs had a very full midfield that included the likes of Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Dele.
Of course, we know now that everything got turned upside down all three of those players I mentioned are gone from north London. While Ndombele and Lo Celso are technically out on loan, the belief is that they won’t be returning in any capacity. Antonio Conte brought in Rodrigo Bentancur in January to help out with the midfield, especially since Oliver Skipp is still out with an injury. He’s been good, but the question has been would Sarr be joining immediately at season’s end?
The short answer to that question is a resounding “No.”
The long answer is far more complicated. Sport Witness did some reporting regarding Sarr today after L’Equipe put Sarr in the infamous ‘harmless club’ which is a segment of players that have underperformed and need to show more on the pitch. From Sport Witness’ piece:
Metz manager Frédéric Antonetti wants the Tottenham owned player to “take responsibility a little more”. There’s a feeling things have gone too quickly for him, and seen his situation ‘destabilised’.
Following the deal with Tottenham, Pape Matar Sarr has ‘never been able to confirm his box-to-box qualities and technical finesse which dazzled last season’.
More is expected, and it’s soon time for Spurs to decide whether they feel this summer is the right one for the youngster to physically arrive at Tottenham, or whether another loan would be beneficial.
First off, Antonetti isn’t wrong. Sarr’s not had a great season and it’s hard to pin down what his problems are. Antonetti is taking a tough love approach to this with praising him his prior season but saying things have gone wrong, which they have! Sarr’s numbers across the board are down, and while he’s still just 19-years-old, the belief at Spurs was he’d blossom in the same squad and be ready to show if he’s ready for EPL minutes the following preseason.
That’s probably not going to happen now, but in Sarr’s defense, there’s two big problems that may be outside of his control.
The first one is that Sarr has played multiple positions this season for tactical and injury reasons. He’s being asked to be an attacking, box-to-box, deep lying playmaker, and defensive midfielder all throughout this season. It’s had to blossom when you’ve had to fill multiple spots and don’t have time to get comfortable. If you’re asking yourself why this is happening, I give you the second reason why Sarr isn’t necessarily at fault:
FC Metz are dogsh*t.
Currently in 19th place in Ligue 1, the Lorraine-based club are almost certainly going down. They were plastered 6-1 yesterday by Rennes and did not look competitive at any moment in the match. They’re the second worst club in the division at scoring goals and only hapless Bordeaux (what the hell happened to THEM?) have surrendered more. At times, their matches can be described as chaotic tactically. There’s almost no flow to their possession and attack and while Sarr can shoulder some of that blame, a lot of it is just Metz are bad and there’s only so much one player can do.
Sarr certainly has some work to do, but he’s still very young and has a lot of years ahead of him. He’ll leave Metz at the end of the season and at least get a chance to show Antonio Conte what he can do surrounded by his new teammates. While I wouldn’t hold your breath about him getting substantial minutes next season given Spurs have Skipp, Bentancur and Hojbjerg well established, Spurs can take their time and find a proper loan for him, hopefully at a club that will allow him to grow.