When the name Malang Sarr popped up around the time the transfer window opened, I was convinced Arsenal would snap him up. A young, athletic, genuinely talented centre-back, who was the answer to the Gunners’ prayers and at the right price….free.
The football Gods appeared to be smiling at the North London club with their monotonous money issues. I waited for the rumours to become firm, with blanket references to a potential deal, but it fell off the radar and was eventually replaced by the Gabriel Magalhaes saga, which is still looking likely after some major work from Mikel Arteta.
Then the Malang Sarr links resurfaced, which either meant he was ‘plan B’ to Gabriel or that the Spanish manager is looking for three strong centre-backs to fit his end of season blueprint. What sort of player is Sarr?
Sarr is composed on the ball, has infinite confidence in his abilities but his timing is his gift. Whether it’s picking out a long-range pass into key attacking areas, or the last-minute foot to block an opponent, Sarr looks extremely good value for no money.
On the evidence of what I’ve seen from Sarr in attacking aspects, Aubameyang can already be awarded the Golden Boot for next season because the striker, who often had to make his own luck, will have more service than he ever thought likely or possible. Tierney, Willian, Bellerin, Saka, and Pepe are worth 30 goals to Aubameyang every season and Malang Sarr would be the cherry on the cake.
In defence, Sarr is determined, solid, and fearless. He exudes a presence and often leads the charge either going forward or in defence. Could it be that Arsenal are due for an influx of players that can communicate and lead? Wow, that would shut the mouths of an array of tiresome pundits who raise the same concerns after ever mauling.
I’m so excited at the moment, I feel like I could burst. Everything seems possible and I’m not even panicking about the deals in the pipeline because I feel like they’ll get done or at the very least, Arteta will be able to start the season with a sense of optimism within a team of his own making.
Let’s not get carried away, this is Arsenal, where things that seem straight forward rarely are and decisions are made which appear completely baffling. If we do secure Gabriel Magalhaes to play alongside William Saliba and then grab Malang Sarr, Mari and Soares will be obsolete within a season.
Our defensive problems have been well-documented and have been ongoing for, I’m going to guess at this point, over 10 years. We’ve bought defender after defender but never of the required standard. Koscielny was the best of the bunch, but Wenger broke him by playing him even when he should have been recuperating, which tells you how few options Arsenal had at their disposal.
I certainly don’t want to begin the cycle of blame but Wenger and Gazidis should have spent the type of money that was necessary back then or formed a plan of progression for those in the academy. My new fear is that because we are buying from outside, the careers of Zech Medley, Danny Ballard, Mark McGuiness, and Jordi Osei -Tutu may be over before they’ve begun.
That may well be the case and I will blame the previous incumbents if it happens. However, I feel there’s no option at present, Arsenal were incapable of defending and without Aubameyang and Leno, they would almost certainly have been in the bottom six.
The legacy of previous backward planning is now complete and there’s always a price to be paid but not for Sarr if Arsenal act quickly.