Pape Matar Sarr is moving up Spurs’ midfield hierarchy

Like The FA Cup A broken relationship does not live long in the memory. Entertainment minimal, drama non-existent, good football largely absent, shots on target (two in total for both teams) risible.

If Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Portsmouth If an impression is made on your mind it will be for one of these three things:

1. Pompey’s 9,000 away fans chant for 90 minutes.

2. Harry Kane Moving within a whisker of Jimmy Greaves’ all-time Spurs goalscoring record (this was another game that made you wonder where we’d be without him… probably going to Fratton Park for a replay and 10 points and six places down. Premier League without your goal).

3. Pape Matar Sarr finally making his full debut.

Expectations around Sir, 20, are quietly high, especially given his reputation as one of the most talented midfielders of his age in European football, a player closely monitored by the continent’s biggest clubs.

It was 18 months ago that Spurs paid around £15 million ($18.1 million) for Metz to sign Sarr but, as they loaned him outright to Metz for the 2021-22 season, he has spent the last half-season as Antonio Conte’s fifth-choice midfield. spent Pecking order, he recently had to wait until Saturday to make his full debut after making some fleeting appearances in which he impressed.

Senegalhas been eliminated from the last 16 stage England in world cup Sir had his chance to impress Conte in the weeks leading up to Christmas on the training ground, and he, too Brian GillThe past two weeks have been enough to hand out opportunities.

Gill made the most of his chances against Crystal Palace in midweek and followed that up with a good performance against Portsmouth. So how did you do it sir?

Both the level of the opposition and the playing conditions should be taken into account in all this. League One side Portsmouth had just 28 percent of the ball and rarely entered the Spurs third of the field (not to diminish their performance, they were organised, held together some good parts of the game and greatly restricted the chances Spurs could create).

Portsmouth allowed the deep-seated Sir, who played on the pivot Oliver Skip Pushing beyond him, to direct the game. He touched the ball 115 times, the most on the field and more than twice as many skips (54), with 90 percent pass accuracy, which is what you’d expect. Where he excelled was winning the ball back with five tackles (highest on the field) and three interceptions (highest of any Spurs player).

Apart from a few lopsided passes in the first half, he sprayed the ball around with confidence and generally accuracy, playing 13 balls (the most of any outfield player), nine of which found the target.

Conte’s assistant Christian Stellini said before the game that Sir had been working on his body position and it was clear that he was able to knock the ball away from Portsmouth’s midfielders and then open himself up to switch play to either side.

This is his pass map, showing different angles and positions (yellow lines are misplaced), mostly on the outside.

And this is his touch map, showing how much ground he covers even though there’s no touch on the box.

Sir has played a number of different midfield positions in his short career and if he is to become a more regular fixture in the senior group rather than an unused substitute, Conte will need to work out how to use him.

In 2020-21 at Metz, he played mostly as a defensive midfielder, then last season he moved to central midfield (50 percent of minutes) and he played 36 percent of his minutes as an attacking midfielder behind the front line.

He can play box-to-box, he can break up attacks, he can score goals, he can even take free kicks, as we saw for Senegal against England.

As this graphic from his 2020-21 campaign – which convinced Spurs to buy him – shows, his shot volume is incredibly high, as is his carry and dribble volume, as he has impressive physicality and good technique while dribbling.

We didn’t see much dribbling or shooting against Portsmouth but Sir didn’t have a role that day. If Yves in his twenties He played along, as Sarr may have been given license to continue before injuring himself in the warm-up.

“He’s a very young player and it’s his first time in England,” Stellini said of Sir. “One year of experience in Ligue 1. About skills, he can do everything. A great player with many possibilities and playing in many different positions.

“You have to wait with the young players. With Pape, Antonio decided this moment that he was ready to play. We work a lot on body position and he showed a desire to improve and it’s very important because you can work with them.

“With Pep, it was very easy, but we have a hierarchy and he has to respect that.”

Yes, there is a hierarchy, but you wonder if Sir’s performance here ranks above the skip but how cleverly he used the ball against Palace a few days ago.

He looks composed and mature for his age. And, like Gill, he can now become a viable option for Conte, not just in FA Cup games.

(Top photo: Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)


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