Newcastle could sign a perfect upgrade on Jonjo Shelvey in FC Metz starlet Pape Sarr.
The 18-year-old is enjoying a real breakthrough campaign with the Ligue 1 side this season, playing 18 times in the league, and has established himself as one of the first names on the team-sheet in recent weeks for Metz boss Frederic Antonetti – he’s completed the full 90 minutes in 11 of the last 14 league games.
Now, French publication L’Equipe claim that Steve Bruce’s side are one of three Premier League clubs (Everton and Chelsea the others) who are interested in signing the teenager, while he is also attracting attention from Nice.
While Arsenal loanee Joe Willock has been the man of the moment in recent weeks with his late rescue acts – Steve Bruce has even admitted that he would love to sign him on a permanent deal this summer – there’s a real argument to be made that Sarr could be just as influential of a signing for the Magpies.
Predominantly a holding midfielder but able to play slightly further forward too, Sarr could represent a real upgrade on Shelvey in the middle of the park.
His coach at Metz, Antonetti, has not shied away from lavishing his midfield starlet with praising, saying: “Pape Matar Sarr is elegance in the midfield, it’s talent, it’s making others play.”
And, when you look at his key stats, they are all comfortably better than what Shelvey has produced this season in the Premier League.
As per Whoscored, the Senegalese youngster averages more tackles and interceptions than the Magpies man, makes more dribbles per game, and also has a far better passing accuracy too – something that has long been associated with Shelvey as being one of his strengths.
Even for someone of his age, Sarr just looks far more composed protecting his back-four, and has got the ability to beat the opposition press either with a pass or by just powering past them with a run.
The 18-year-old has also been tipped to enjoy a superb career by Olivier Perrin, who initially recruited him to the Académie Génération back in his native Senegal when he was a youngster.
He said: “He will be able to go as far as he wants to go. He must work, be as he is there, modest, regular, hardworking. He must continue to love football and he will do like the great players, he will go far. I think he will go very far.”
So while Willock will undoubtedly be someone Newcastle look to sign this summer given his recent loan performances, bringing Sarr to St James’ Park could be a massive coup too and more focus should be given to him.
Dubbed as someone who’s “got everything” to his game, Sarr could be the next break-out star in the North East, if Newcastle can get a deal done.