Ismaila Sarr - WatfordGetty

‘I turned down Barcelona to develop properly and to play’ – Watford’s Sarr

Watford winger Ismaila Sarr revealed he turned down Barcelona in the earlier in his career to focus on his development.

Before moving to England on a club-record deal last summer, the 21-year-old, who started his career at the Academie Generation Foot in his home country, had an impressive spell in France with Metz and Rennes.

Sarr caught the attention of Ligue 1 club Metz during his development in Generation Foot, and they gave him his first professional contract.

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After just a campaign at the Stade Saint-Symphorien, the Senegalese attacker received offers from Rennes and Barcelona in the summer of 2017, and he has backed his reasons for rejecting the 26-time La Liga champions.

“I was told there were two offers: Rennes and Barcelona. I wanted to go to a club where I would play, so I decided to go to Rennes because I thought that by going to Barcelona, I would not have been in the first-team," Sarr told the Telegraph.

“Some other players may have made a different decision but I think very seriously about my career. I want to develop properly, to be coached properly and to play. If you go straight to a big club, there is a danger that you will not do things properly and then you have to start from scratch. I didn’t want that to happen.”

Sarr went on to pen a four-year deal with Rennes where he won the Uefa Europa League Goal of the Season and the French Cup in the 2018-19 campaign.

After scoring 18 goals across two seasons for the Red and Blacks, the right-winger switched to England to join Watford on a club-record deal reportedly around £32.3m last August.

Sarr's father, Abdoulaye, is a retired footballer who played for Senegal and the Watford star has described him as his 'biggest critic' and he also revealed how the deal helped him get sheep for his father.

“My father was a farmer and wanted to farm again. He told me: ‘I need to keep busy’. So now I have bought him all these sheep, and he’s going to be very busy! I don’t know what kind of sheep they are but it’s the right breed - I wanted to make sure he had the best quality sheep," he added.

“He’s my biggest critic and also the one who gives me good advice. He goes through the games with me. It helps that he knows football.”

Sarr is having a fine start to life in the Premier League, contributing two assists and three goals in 16 appearances.

He is currently recovering from a hamstring injury and remains a doubt for Watford's league trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.