Having joined Tottenham over 18 months ago, Spurs fans are finally starting to see exactly why Daniel Levy splashed out to bring Pape Matar Sarr to North London.

The then 18-year-old joined Spurs from French side Metz in the summer of 2021 for a reported £14.6m; a significant fee for a teenager coming out of Ligue 1 (Sky Sports).

Pape Matar Sarr

(Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Prior to joining Spurs, the Senegalese midfielder was supposedly a target for several of Europe’s top clubs, and at the time it was thought Levy had conducted a shrewd piece of business.

In the season that had just gone, Sarr put up impressive domestic numbers, scoring 4 times across 25 appearances in all competitions and even making two senior appearances for Senegal – a notable feat for a player of his age (Transfermarkt).

Upon joining Spurs, Sarr was immediately loaned back to Metz, going to make another 33 Ligue 1 appearances picking up a further goal and three assists.

Come the start of the 2022/23 season, the decision was made Sarr’s development would be best facilitated at Spurs with a vision to integrate the midfielder into the first-team squad.

But in a midfield cohort already comprising of Hoijbjerg, Bentancur, Skipp, and a newly-signed Yves Bissouma, Sarr was always going to be bottom of the pecking order, and in truth likely wasn’t expected to play many meaningful minutes in the forthcoming campaign.

And until recently, that had been exactly the case, with Sarr appearing just twice for the reserve side before the World Cup break.

However, as consequence of Senegal’s round of 16 exit in Qatar, Sarr supposedly enjoyed a few fruitful post-World Cup weeks at Hotspur Way with Conte reportedly impressed with the 20-year-old.

Moreover, with Bentancur yet to return to action for Spurs following the World Cup, Conte has been forced to temporarily replace the Uruguayan in midfield, subsequently thrusting Sarr up the pecking order.

Though he didn’t start in Wednesday’s demolition of Crystal Palace, Sarr replaced the struggling, but in fairness injury-returning, Oliver Skipp in the 66th minute, impressing thereon out as Spurs saw out a statement win.

His performance garnered well-earned praise amongst fans, with Conte clearly in agreement awarding the midfielder with a starting spot in Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Portsmouth.

In what was ultimately an average team performance, even to the simple eye test Sarr stood out with his underlying numbers only reaffirming his strong showing.

Playing his first full 90 for Spurs, Sarr completed a mammoth 84 passes with 90% accuracy, made a game-high 5 tackles and a further three interceptions without once being dribbled past, all in all playing a mature, levelled game (Sofascore).

Picking up a well-deserved Man of the Match award, Sarr received further praise from Cristian Stellini, Conte’s right-hand man, with the Italian labelling him as a “great player with many possibilities” (Football London).

Still just 20-years-old, Sarr now looks to be living up to the proceeding reputation he arrived with back in 2021, showing signs of being the long-term anchor in the Spurs midfield.

Moreover, with Sarr (20), Skipp, (22), Bentancur (25), Bissouma (26), and Hojbjerg (27), Spurs boast a midfield contingent all under 28, meaning for whoever is in charge come the start of next season they have an experienced yet still youthful-(ish) set of midfielders.

Granted, we must remember that Sarr has only played one good game, and even at that it came against opposition two divisions below Spurs, but we can still be excited about what he may offer.

Hopefully, Conte will continue to give him minutes in the side from time to time, as without doubt, Spurs could well home one of the most under-the-radar, up-and-coming talents in world football… but let’s not get carried away.

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