AS Monaco has formalised the arrival of the French central defender Malang Sarr from Chelsea in the form of a loan. Long awaited, the arrival of an additional defender has finally materialised for Les Monegasques. Without the Champions League, the question now is whether Sarr arrives to complete the defence or to succeed Benoit Badiashile.
Because he knows Ligue 1 perfectly
This is the story of a precocious player, who showed up in the first team at the age of seventeen. Launched into the deep end during the 2016-2017 season alongside Dante, Sarr played a total of 119 games with OGC Nice during the four full seasons he spent with the club he rose through the ranks with.
Born in Nice, originally from the Moulins district, the imposing central defender has known everything under the Nice jersey. From the football school to the first team, via the new training centre and the handover between, Sarr is one of the symbols of Nice’s academy.
With more than 100 Ligue 1 games, the defender, who spent time with Chelsea and FC Porto, plus knows the French championship like the back of his hand, should have little worry integrating. Especially in a region he knows by heart.
Because he still has room for improvement
With already six professional seasons on the clock, Sarr has solid experience for his young age. At 23, the talented stopper still has room for improvement too, particularly in the consistency of his performances. Certain of his potential, Chelsea did not hesitate to offer him a five-year contract at the end of his four years in Nice.
But since his departure from OGC Nice, Sarr has seen his playing time melt like snow in the sun, after a loan to FC Porto and a season at Chelsea where he was often forced to sit on the sidelines due to the fierce competition in his position from the likes of Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta and Trevoh Chalobah. The former Eaglet should find Monaco a more favourable ground not only to gain vital minutes but also to revive his career, though.
But in a young central defence, with Badiashile (21) and Axel Disasi (24), Sarr could lack experienced support, which he enjoyed at Porto when playing next to veteran Pepe – unless Guillermo Maripan (28) fulfils this role. Or even the arrival of a new recruit in this sector.
Because he brings new solutions at the back
The elimination of AS Monaco in the third preliminary round of the Champions League may have changed the situation. Left-footed, like Badiashile, the defender on loan from Chelsea could actually land on the Rock to replace the gifted Badiashile.
With another year without the Champions League, Les Monegasque might not retain Badiashile in the event of an offer that meets their expectations. If a major European club offers a sum of around €50 million, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see the native of Limoges depart.
Sarr could thus form a duo alongside Axel Disasi or with a second recruit in this sector, maybe Eric Bailly, depending on the game system set up by Philippe Clement (4-4-2, in 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3).
Accustomed to playing on the left in a three-man defence during his rare appearances with Chelsea, Sarr is just as capable in a four-man defence. In the event of the departure of Badiashile, the former Nice would quickly be able to slot right in.
Can also play on the left side
While this is not his preferred position, he showed at Nice, and sometimes even at Porto, that he has already evolved as a left-back, in an organisation with four defenders.
In a position where Caio Henrique and Ismail Jakobs respectively occupy the role of starter and substitute, the Nicois could offer a third solution to his coach depending on the absences.
Eventually, Sarr could even become the main left-back alternative behind the Brazilian. In a system with three defenders, with two pistons, Sarr would then be used exclusively as a left central defender, leaving the corridor to Henrique or Jakobs.
Because he has Champions League experience
At OGC Nice (3 games), FC Porto (6 games) then Chelsea (2 games), Sarr played a total of eleven Champions League games. A significant experience in the most prestigious of European competitions for a club which will have to be content with playing in the Europa League again this year.
Last season, Sarr was established alongside Andreas Christensen on the last day of the group stage against Zenit St. Petersburg (3-3), before coming in to play in the first leg against Lille in the round of 16 (2-0).
This article was translated from the French version of the Monaco Tribune