WATCH: Malcom vs Ismaila Sarr - which Ligue 1 starlet is the hotter talent?

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Both are racing in the right direction and already look set to be battling it our for the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award

Given that Malcom and Ismaila Sarr were both linked with big-money moves away from Ligue 1 in the summer, it should come as little surprise that the duo have quickly established themselves as stars in the 2017-18 season.

Malcom was linked to Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg, whose €35 million offer was judged insufficient compensation for the loss of the player’s talents.

Meanwhile, it was Sarr who turned his back on Barcelona for the opportunity to play at Rennes, where he felt he would get greater opportunities to develop his talents in the first team, having starred with Metz before the summer.

Six matches into the season, both players have been ever-present in the starting XIs of their respective sides. Malcom’s Bordeaux are flying, with the 20-year-old a chief catalyst as they have shot to fourth in the league, as yet undefeated. In Rennes, meanwhile, things have been more complicated, yet Sarr has still played a vital role.

Few players in the opening month and a half of the season could match the contribution that Malcom has made. Playing off the wing for Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side, he already has three goals and as many assists to his name. 

When the chips have been down, he has been the man to produce a moment of magic. His last-minute equaliser in Lyon - a stupendous shot from range - will likely be remembered as his outstanding contribution of the season, yet his winner against Toulouse in the Derby de la Garonne on Friday was another effort to be proud of. 

Having only debuted for the club in early 2016, 18 months later this burgeoning young talent has developed into their most important attacking threat. In a league now dominated by Neymar’s presence, he has shown there is more than one outstanding Brazilian attacking force in France.

Already this season he has fashioned 19 changes for team-mates, while his ability to vary his game between crossing, dribbling and shooting has been a commendable virtue.

Ismaila Sarr Cedric Varrault  Rennes Dijon 19082017

Sarr’s numbers are not quite as impressive as the Brazilian’s, though life in Rennes has been rather more difficult in the early weeks of the season, with the Breton club surprisingly struggling towards the foot of the standings. 

Nevertheless, the rapid 19-year-old has managed to catch the eye.

Compared to Liverpool’s Sadio Mane in terms of both style and background, he has proven himself willing to take on a good deal of responsibility for his side, successfully completing 21 dribbles so far this season, doing so with a success rate only marginally skinnier than Malcom’s 69.23.

This reflects a lack of true centre forward in Rennes’ ranks. Whereas Bordeaux have a great threat through the middle, Christian Gourcuff’s side find themselves deficient there, which also explains why Sarr has a crossed into the box on fewer occasions and, in part, why he has fashioned 12 chances for others – a meagre tally compared to the Malcom’s 19.

Malcom

Sarr's only goal so far came in a 3-2 loss at Toulouse, yet a fortnight later, after the international break, he was a key figure as Rennes won 3-1 in Marseille. The teenager kickstarted their victory by haring down the right to set up Wahbi Khazri after two minutes, setting the tone for an evening upon which he would roast the OM defence with his speed.

It was a match that provided evidence that things are starting to come together at Roazhon Park, where only bad luck stood between Rennes and taking something from Nice last weekend. 

There is little doubt that Malcom has made a stronger start to the season, but Sarr is developing into a leader of his side already, just a matter of weeks after arriving from Metz. 

Both are moving rapidly striding in the right direction, and should they continue upon that trajectory they will be key protagonists in the chase for Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year award. Should they then choose to move on, there are sure to be no shortage of suitors. 

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