Pape Matar Sarr moves to the Tottenham midfield sequence

like FA cup Relationships go, and this will not live long in the memory. The entertainment is minimal, the drama is nonexistent, the good football is largely absent, the shots on goal (two in total for both teams) are laughable.

if Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Portsmouth Does it leave any imprint on your brain? It will be for one of these three things:

1. The 9,000 fans of Pompeii made a noise for 90 minutes.

2. Harry Kane Moving inside Sharpe of Tottenham’s all-time goalscorer Jimmy Greaves (that was another game that made you think about where they would be without him… maybe they’re heading to Fratton Park for a replay and also 10 points and six places lower in Premier League without goals).

3. Babi Matar Saar finally made his debut.

Expectations around Sarr, 20, are quietly high, particularly given his reputation as one of the most talented midfielders of his era in European football, a player who was being watched closely by big clubs across the continent.

18 months ago, Tottenham paid Metz around £15m ($18.1m) to buy Sarr, but because they loaned him out directly to Metz for the 2021-22 season and he spent half of last season as fifth-choice in Antonio Conte’s midfield. He had to wait until Saturday to make his full debut after two fleeting appearances as a substitute finally impressed.

SenegalExit in the round of sixteen to England In the world Cup means that Sarr had a chance to impress Conte in the weeks leading up to Christmas on the training ground, and he too Brian GillHe did enough to give them chances in the last two weeks.

Gil seized his chance against Crystal Palace In the middle of the week this was followed up with a fine display against Portsmouth. How did Sarah do it?

During all this must be taken into account the level of opposition and the state of the game. League One side Portsmouth had just 28 per cent possession of the ball and rarely ventured into Spurs’ third of the field (not to diminish their performance, they were marshalled and put in some fantastic passes from play and greatly restricted the chances Spurs could create).

Portsmouth’s deep seating allowed Sarr who played in the centre-forward with Oliver Skip Override it, to dictate gameplay. He touched the ball 115 times, the most on the field and more than twice as much as Skip (54), with 90 percent passing accuracy, which is what you’d expect. He excelled at recovering the ball with five tackles (the most on the field) and three interceptions (the most by any Spurs player).

Aside from two misguided passes in the first half, he splashed the ball with confidence and usually accuracy, and also played 13 long balls (the most of any outfield player), nine of which found their target.

Conte’s assistant Christian Stellini said before the match that Sarr was working on his body position and that was evident in the way he shielded the ball from Portsmouth midfielders and then opened himself up to switch play to either wing.

This is his passing map, showing a variety of angles and positions (yellow lines are misplaced passes), mostly to the wings.

And here is his touch map, again showing how much ground he covered, albeit without any touches in the box.

Sarr has played in a number of different midfield positions during his short career, and if he is now more of a regular in the first group rather than just an unused substitute, Conte will need to work out how best to use him.

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

He can play from box to box, he can break up attacks, he can score goals, and he can even take free kicks, as we saw in the Senegal vs England match.

As this drawing from his 2020-2021 campaign – the one that persuaded Tottenham to buy him – shows, his shot volume is incredibly high, as is his carrying volume and dribbling, as he has impressive physical strength and good technique when dribbling.

We didn’t see much dribbling or shooting against Portsmouth, but that wasn’t Sarr’s role that day. if Eve Bisuma Playing alongside him, as he was supposed to before he injured himself in the warm-up, Sarr may have been given a license to move on.

“He’s a very young player and this is the first time he’s come to England,” Stellini said of Sarr. “One year of experience in Ligue 1. About skill, he can do everything. A great player with many possibilities and to play in many different situations.

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

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

Yes, there is a hierarchy, but you wonder if Sarr crept a place above Skip with not only his performances here but how cleverly he used the ball against Palace a few days ago.

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

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

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