Arsenal need to solve their creative problems, and if Nicolas Pep proves out of their price range, Ismaila Sar is an excellent alternative.
Arsenal‘s transfer prospectus this summer is still massively up in the air an could be entirely dependent on the result of the Europa League final. Even still, it’s always nice to start lining up your Plan A’s, B’s, C’s…. so on and so forth.
Suffice to say Nicolas Pepe is Plan A for a lot of teams. He’s had his monumental break out season at Lille, a club with a history of producing world class players just like him, and with his prime just around the corner, his price tag is going to reflect it.
He won’t be an easy guy to sign. But that’s where guys like Ismaila Sarr come into the picture. Because while Pepe may be a much clearer successful signing, Sarr falls more in light with a Guendoui or Torreira signing – someone that you’re getting before that big breakout year in the name of building him the way you see fit.
Sarr has a lot of positives going for him, not least of all goal production, but I think what will interest Unai Emery most is Sarr’s versatility.
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He played every single attacking position last season for Rennes, from striker to right midfielder, to left wing to No. 10 and everything in between. He finished the year with eleven goals and eight assists between Ligue 1 and the Europa League.
While most of that production came from the right hand side, the versatility won’t be lost on a team like the Gunners, who use a new formation every week. He would slot seamlessly into one of the Mkhitayran/Iwobi dual-creator roles, he could fit into the vacant No. 10 role, or he could be a winger.
All for the low cost of £25m.
Hard to beat that. In fact, what started out looking like a Plan B is sounding a lot more like a Plan A. Or at the very least, a Plan B+. Because in the name of being economical, Sarr checks all the boxes, whereas Pepe doesn’t. And Sarr is still 21, so the opportunity is there to mold him into the player that best serves both himself and the team.
It’ll be like having a second opportunity at Alex Iwobi. A young attacking player with a lot of potential across the board? You’ve got a better chance with two than one.