Malang Sarr is a left-sided centre back whose contract recently expired from OGC Nice in Ligue 1. Chelsea have been heavily linked with the signing of the young defender, rumoured to have offered a five-year deal to the youngster. There may be plans to loan Sarr out to the Bundesliga next season, but the potential is certainly there for him to be a fixture in the Chelsea first-team in season to come. In this article we will evaluate some of Sarr’s strengths and weaknesses and set out what you can expect when we do see him play for Chelsea.
What are Sarr’s strengths and why could he be giving Lampard a headache for this upcoming season?
One thing that immediately stood out to me when watching Sarr was his ability to pass the ball out from the back. With him averaging 11 progressive passes and 7 passes into the final per 90 in the Ligue 1. This is higher then both of his fellow countryman Rapheal Varane and Dan Axel-Zagadou. This strength of his could be very helpful for Chelsea when playing against teams who play a high-line. We saw at the beginning of Sarri’s reign in the 18/19 season Luiz feed balls over the top to the likes of Hazard and Pedro to devastating effect at times. Potentially, this could result in Sarr playing balls in behind to Pulisic and Werner to counteract teams playing a high-line. Sarr’s passing ability is complemented nicely by the fact he is left footed. In modern football we have seen an obsession with having a left-footed centre back on the left side and there is a reason for that.
It is key for teams who like to pass out from the back, and especially for teams in the Premier League who are often pressed high up the pitch. Although it may seem like a minute detail. We’ve seen teams such as City without Laporte struggle to distribute from deep without having a left-footer at the back. This is because players who are left footed naturally will find it easier to pass the ball out to the left hand side and progess the ball up the pitch. As they don’t have to spend as much time putting their bodies in the right position to pass the ball to the desired player.
Another one of Sarr’s strengths is his athleticism. In Sarr’s career at Nice he has had to accommodate for the lack of pace of his partner Dante when he plays in a back four. Nice have also played with a back three – with Sarr having to cover for space behind the left wing back. We’ve even seen Sarr play left-back at times in his career which further highlights his versatility. This ability to play left-back may be another reason why Frank may have second thoughts about immediately sending the Frenchman out on loan. Selection dilemmas at left-back may arise owing to the imminent sale of Emerson to Inter, the arrival of Ben Chilwell who is currently injured, potential injuries to Cesar Azpilicueta, the sporadic form of Marcos Alonso and the unproven Ian Maatsen. Thus, Sarr might get the chance for some minutes at the start of the new season at left-back.
What are some of Sarr’s weakness?
I think one of the obvious glaring weaknesses in Sarr’s game is his aerial ability with him only being 5’11. Sarr’s poor aerial ability is shown by the fact his aerial duel win percentage sits at only 33%. Sarr also isn’t that great on the ground either with him only having a tackle win rate of 49%. This is worse than all of Chelsea’s centre backs last season. Fans will be immediately alarmed by this statistic considering some of the substandard performances we’ve seen from the Chelsea centre-backs last season in the air and on the floor. Something else to add is the interest of Arsenal in the player, and the fact they haven’t signed him up. They seemed nailed on to get him just a month ago, but the lack of a deal means Arsenal’s scouting team might have seen something that suggests he wasn’t up to the standard of their first team.
Why is he likely to be sent out on loan?
I think it is clear to see at the moment it doesn’t seem that there is space to accommodate Sarr into the Chelsea squad for next season. I would also add that if Chelsea were so desperate for that type of player they would have likely activated the buy back clause of Nathan Ake.This is why Chelsea will likely send Sarr out on loan with many Bundesliga clubs seemingly interested in the French youngster. Personally, I think a move to the Bundesliga would much more beneficial as the league is filled with many pacey attackers and would likely play in a defensive system similar to that of Chelsea.
What do you think of Malang Sarr? Can he make an impact at Chelsea this season? Let us know in the comments below!