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Chelsea sign free agent Sarr on five-year deal

Chelsea have announced the signing of former Nice defender Malang Sarr on a five-year deal, with the 21-year-old set to spend the 2020-21 season out on loan to “gain valuable game time” in order to be ready for Frank Lampard's first-team squad.

Sarr can be deployed at centre-back in a back four, the left side of a back three or at full-back and was the subject of interest from Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke and unnamed Italian clubs. 

Arsenal were also understood to have been tracking the youngster, but opted not to offer him a deal as they eventually opted to move for Gabriel Magalhaes.

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Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said of the Blues' latest acquisition: “The opportunity to sign Malang was one we could not miss. He is a tremendous prospect and we will be monitoring him closely during his loan period, hoping he will soon be back at Chelsea. 

“We are very happy to welcome him to the club today.”

A graduate of Nice's youth academy, Sarr made the leap to the French side's first-team set-up at just 17 years old, scoring the only goal of the match on his debut in a 1-0 win over Rennes in August 2016.

A France Under-21 international of Senegalese descent, Sarr made a total of 119 appearances for Nice, bagging three goals along the way.

Sarr becomes Chelsea's fourth signing of the transfer window, with Hakim Ziyech having completed his move from Ajax, Timo Werner being brought in from RB Leipzig and Ben Chilwell making the switch from Leicester City.

It is unlikely that Sarr will be the Blues' final import of the summer, with a big-money move for Leverkusen's Kai Havertz thought to be nearing the final stages before he trades the Bundesliga for the English Premier League.

Furthermore, Chelsea are also on the brink of announcing the acquisition of former Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil captain Thiago Silva, with the veteran centre-back on the verge of joining the London club.

Chelsea begin their Premier League campaign on September 14 with a trip to Brighton, although Lampard's pre-season preparations have been thrown into disarray after eight members of his first-team squad were forced to self-isolate in line with the UK government's Covid-19 protocols.