Pape Matar Sarr NXGN GFXGoal

Pape Matar Sarr: Who is Tottenham's new £25m teenage signing?

It has been a tumultuous summer at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The saga around Harry Kane's future has, of course, dominated proceedings, though it now seems that the England captain will be remaining with his boyhood club until at least January.

In terms of incomings, meanwhile, the emphasis seems to have been towards youth.

Cristian Romero, 23, has been snapped up from Atalanta after a breakout campaign both in Serie A and also for Argentina at the Copa America, while 20-year-old Bryan Gil was regarded as one of the hottest prospects in La Liga before swapping Sevilla for Spurs.

And while reports linking with Nuno Espirito Santo's side with Wolves winger Adama Traore remain, their overall policy of chasing potential over more expensive proven stars has continued into the final week of the window.

Metz midfielder Pape Matar Sarr is the latest youngster who is set to complete a move to north London in the coming days, and while he may not be a household name yet, there are plenty who believe the signing of the Senegalese teenager will prove to be something of a coup.

Sarr has emerged as one of the most in-demand youngsters of the transfer window, with Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City linked to his signature before Tottenham moved into pole position over the past week.

The 18-year-old broke out in Ligue 1 last season, and looks set to remain at Metz for the coming campaign, with Spurs likely to send him back to the French outfit on loan once the signing, which will cost them an initial £13m ($17.6m) but could end up costing as much as £25.5m ($35m), is complete.

So what makes Sarr so special?

The confidence he already has when in possession is what particularly catches the eye. Sarr's greatest asset is his progressive and aggressive ball-carrying, which often sees him surge beyond potential obstacles with ease as he glides across the pitch.

It is no surprise he led the way for carries-per-90 into the final third of the pitch for Metz last season, while he is also forward-thinking and positive when it comes to his passing, evidenced by the fact he completed a high volume of progressive passes per 90 last season, placing him third in the Maroons' side.

Along with his confidence in possession is a willingness to get stuck in and put in the hard yards on the pitch. That inclination to put in a shift off the ball portrays him as the modern midfielder, capable of filling multiple roles and positions on the pitch.

Check out football's best wonderkids with NXGN:

“In Senegal, at the age of 15 and a half, he played his first match…I immediately said to myself that he was a top player, with a very high-level [of] reading and analysing the game,” Oliver Perrin, who first saw Sarr at his boyhood club, Generation Foot, in Senegal and has also spent time coaching at Metz, told the Evening Standard .

“He is [like] Miralem Pjanic. He can play in a system with two No.10s; he can be in the middle and play box-to-box; he can be a 10 or a six - it depends on the coaches.”

Indeed, while Sarr showed a level of versatility in his debut season as he made 25 appearances for the Metz first team following his debut in November, there is a sense his best comes when he plays in deeper midfield, which allows him the freedom to go on those lung-busting runs from time to time.

His rounded nature means he thrives in defensive actions, too, and it is no surprise that he ranks among the top two pressers for Metz last term. Only Boubakar Kouyate, meanwhile, made more interceptions than the youngster last term, while Sarr was third for tackles plus interceptions per 90 in 2020-21.

That is not to say that he does not possess a goal threat, with ball-striking another of his key attributes. He netted four times during his debut season, three of which came via shots from outside the penalty area.

In fact, he led the way in Frederic Antonetti’s side for average distance of shots taken from range last season, and ranked fourth in the entirety of Ligue 1.

Of course, this characteristic results in the intermittent cracker from distance, but also frustrates when better passing options are ignored for a wasted effort from way out.

That decision-making is just one of the improvements he must make to his game as he prepares to make the step up to the Premier League over the next 12 months.

“Leave Pape Matar Sarr alone. Let him grow. He still has a long way to go in all areas,” Metz boss Antonetti asserted in April. “He has great potential for a great career. Everyone will recognise his tremendous talent.

"I try to bring my experience to him, correct him and make him progress. He has room for improvement, like any 18-year-old. His development must not be disturbed.”

That likely explains why Spurs are willing to give Sarr, who made his full international debut for Senegal in March, another year in France to continue progressing away from the glare of the English media.

He has not outgrown Ligue 1 just yet, but after an encouraging debut season, another strong campaign in one of Europe’s top five leagues should mean he is in a strong position to contribute to the Spurs cause in 2022-23.

If that proves to be the case, then one of the more understated transfer dealings of Tottenham's summer may well, at least in the long-term, prove to be one of their most important.