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Leicester City are plotting a sensational swoop for OGC Nice defender Malang Sarr, according to reports from the Sun.
The report claims that the 18-year old is being monitored by several big clubs including Real Madrid and Chelsea. But the Foxes are planning to send out scouts next week to watch him once more, before making a £20million offer for the player.
Sarr had a brilliant first season for the French side as he played an important role in helping the club finish third in the French Ligue1 and qualify for the UEFA Champions League qualifying stages, which has led to him attracting strong interest from so many big clubs. With Chelsea and Leicester chasing the defender, we take a close look at who Malang Sarr is and what makes him a special talent.
Born on 23 January, 1999, in Nice, France, Sarr joined the OGC Nice academy as a five-year old and has risen rapidly through their ranks. Last summer, before the pre-season, the senior team manager Lucien Favre saw a video clip of the youngster and was immediately impressed, So he brought him into the pre-season tour, following which he became a part of the first-team.
He made his professional debut on August 14, 2016, against Stade de Rennais, scoring the only goal of the game, helping his team to three points. In the process, he became the second youngest debutant to score in the Ligue1 at the age of 17 years, 06 months and 22 days.
He went on to make 32 appearances for the club, finishing up with that solitary goal and two assists for the club as they finished third in the French top division. The 18-year old also featured in the UEFA Champions League qualifier first leg against AFC Ajax earlier this month.
Sarr has been part of the French U16s, U17s and the U18s in the past. Last month, he broke into the France U-21 side and has made 2 appearances so far.
Primarily a centre-back, Sarr has shown that he is extremely comfortable in both four-man defence and a three-man backline. On a few occasions, he has been used as a left-back as well.
Standing at 6ft tall, the 18-year old is physically well developed for his age and is a strong presence at the back, making it difficult to get past him or beat him in the air. A top-notch reader of the game, Sarr has shown great tactical understanding and positional awareness in his fledgling career and is always present to make crucial interceptions in order to thwart the opposition.
The France youth international has often displayed maturity that belies his age as well. He is someone who likes to get on the ball and be involved in build-up play and has shown the tendency to carry the ball forward when presented with a chance. He can also pick out long passes from deep areas in order to start swift counter-attacks.
As it is with any defender of his age, there are a few weaknesses in Sarr’s game too. His positional sense has improved greatly over the last few months, but it still needs work. While his decision-making too can be a bit of a letdown on occasions, both these attributes will only improve with age and experience.
He may have a contract with the club until 2021, but the report from Sun claims that Sarr can be allowed to leave for a fixed fee, if Nice fail to qualify for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League. It also states that Chelsea are believed to be the front-runners to clinch his signature.
However, given the riches in the centre-back department with the Premier League champions, a move to the Stamford Bridge wouldn’t be ideal for him to continue his development. Leicester City might be a better prospect, but he will not be getting a chance of playing in Europe with the Foxes. So, a stay in France seems to be the best way forward for Sarr.