Following Watford’s relegation from the Premier League, an Ismaila Sarr transfer has been rumoured with Liverpool, Crystal Palace, and Wolves said to be interested in the winger. Watford are keen to hold on to their star asset, who joined the club in 2019 for a club-record fee of £30 and has said he would be happy to play in the Championship, however a bid in the region £40m will likely tempt The Hornets to sell. What exactly can a buying club expect in return for their investment?
Sarr has been the shining light in a poor Watford season, scoring five goals and notching six assists. The Senegalese forward has played a part in a third of Watford’s goals, despite missing ten matches. Playing predominantly on the right-wing, he is quick, powerful, reads the game well and is a good finisher.
The standout performance of his Watford career came against Liverpool when he scored twice and assisted once to propel the Hornets to a historic win over the reds, their first defeat of the season. Sarr’s best qualities were all on display; pace, composure, awareness, and an unrelenting desire to help his teammates.
The task he was set that night was not an easy one. He had to slot into a low block, nullify Andy Robertson’s attacking runs and provide an out ball once Watford won possession. He did it all with distinction. Sadio Mane had warned his teammate Robertson about Sarr but it was useless. He ran the show and, when he left Van Dijk for dead before gently lifting the ball over Alison, the secret was out. Everyone knew Watford had a serious player on their hands and, at that point, the Ismaila Sarr transfer became inevitable.
The Liverpool performance showed what he is capable of. However, he isn’t yet performing to that standard regularly. Sarr is raw and any club that signs him will need to be patient. At 22 he is very much still very much a work in progress.
His pass selection and final ball will need to improve if he is to reach the heights of his international teammate Sadio Mane. However, the tools are clearly there. It’s evident that if he continues to develop, Ismaila Sarr will become world-class. When everything clicks he is unplayable. If he can find consistency, he will be unstoppable.
Sarr‘s pace is a frightening proposition for defenders. He is extremely quick. The difference in the way sides set up against Watford without Sarr in the team is stark. When he plays, the opposition defends much deeper, which allows the creative midfielders more space to operate, but dampens the threat that Sarr poses running in behind. Without him in the team, the defensive line is much higher making it harder to break the opposition down. Having a player as potent as Ismaila Sarr can be an effective decoy off the ball, creating space for others to flourish.
In terms of likely destinations for the Ismaila Sarr transfer though, a move to Liverpool would appeal to him and Kevin Phillips has urged them to make it happen. The chance to work with Jurgen Klopp and play alongside Sadio Mane would be an excellent learning opportunity. However, his game time would be severely hampered. Whether Liverpool will see the value in a £40m backup winger remains to be seen, especially one that will depart to play in the African Cup of Nations alongside Mane, Salah, and Keita.
A move to Wolves looks has been rumoured but looks unlikely unless Adama Traore departs Molineux, vacating the right-wing position.
If Wilfred Zaha leaves Crystal Palace, Sarr would be the perfect replacement. Roy Hodgson would have to convince the player that a move to Selhurst Park has the potential to be a fruitful one, however. Another relegation battle will be the last thing that Sarr and his agent want.
There is also the possibility that the Ismaila Sarr transfer doesn’t happen at at all and he remains at Vicarage Road. Watford have confirmed Vladimir Ivic as their new head coach and will be looking to bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. That will be much more achievable with Ismaila Sarr.
The transfer window will remain open until October and the Sarr saga is set to run for a while yet.
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