Player profile: Ismaïla Sarr

15.03.2020 15:00:50 Euan McTear
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  •  The Senegal international joined Watford last summer
  •  He has been doing really well since Nigel Pearson took over
  •  With two goals and an assist in a win over Liverpool, he has become a star of the Premier League 


“Never seen you play. Hadn't heard of you until last week. However, you are now a Hornet and I will support you.” That was one of the replies to Watford’s tweet announcing the acquisition of Ismaïla Sarr from Stade Rennais last summer and it was a feeling shared by many fans at Vicarage Road. He was arriving as a recently crowned Coupe de France winner, but he was largely an unknown.

Now, though, after an impressive start to life at the club and after five goals and four assists in the Premier League, they all know all about the Senegalese winger at Watford. They know all about him across England and even beyond. 

Sarr’s stock is rising and it has really surged in the past few months. Since Nigel Pearson took over after the 16th gameweek, Sarr has really thrived. With Pearson employing a 4-2-3-1 formation that he rarely diverts from, the summer signing has finally had a bit of stability to show his skills from the right side of the attacking midfield trio. 


Ismaïla Sarr’s 2019/20

Stats before Pearson: One goal every 460 mins Zero assists 

Stats after Pearson: One goal every 192 mins One assist every 192 mins 

Sarr is as skilful as almost any other dribbler in the league and he is lightning quick, even reaching a top speed of 36.48km/h during a December game against Crystal Palace. Consider that when Usain Bolt set his 100m world record in Berlin in 2009, his average speed over that race was 37.58 km/h.

There are many pacey players in the Premier League, but the difference with Sarr is that he knows when and how to use it, especially in these past few months. With an average of 1.2 key passes per game, he is showing that he knows when to tee up teammates and when to instead take the initiative and shoot. 

And he certainly can shoot. Sarr has proven that he is capable of scoring all kinds of goals, from one-on-one finishes against the goalkeeper to pouncing at set pieces to rocketing in an effort from distance, as he did last season for Stade Rennais against Jablonec as he scored the Europa League Goal of the Season


UEFA’s Europa League Goals of the Season for 2018/19

1. Ismaïla Sarr. For Stade Rennais vs Jablonec

2. Pedro. For Chelsea vs Slavia Prague

3. David Faupala. For Apollon vs Lazio

4. Tobias Heintz. For Sarpsborg 08 vs Beşiktaş

5. Ari. For Krasnodar vs Akhisar Belediyespor


It’s clear that Sarr is already a star at Watford and, after dominating in their recent 3-0 win over Liverpool, he is a star of the Premier League as well. At just 22 years of age, he still has so much ahead of him and a season of stability would surely do him good, after having had to work under four different coaches so far at Watford. Let’s see just how good he can become.





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