Who is Ismaila Sarr? The flying Watford winger who nearly joined Liverpool and Man Utd

Martin Macdonald
Who is Ismaila Sarr? The flying Watford winger who nearly joined Liverpool and Man Utd

One player too good for the English Championship that is still plying his trade in the second tier is Watford winger Ismaila Sarr.

Watford signed the former Rennes star for a club record fee of around £30 million ahead of the 2019/20 season and although he would eventually come into his own in the Premier League, it wasn’t enough to stop the Hornets being relegated.

He remained with the club in 2020/21, but whether it be via promotion or a transfer away, he’ll probably be back in the Premier League in 2021/22.

What position does Ismaila Sarr play in?

Sarr is usually deployed as a right winger but can play further back in the right of midfield, and has even played up front on occasion, though that is a rarity.

How good is Ismaila Sarr?

Watford broke their transfer record to sign Sarr, which shows the level of talent the Premier League side at that time saw in him in France.

Despite the transfer fee, nobody was expecting him to pull up trees right away, and his return of five goals and four assists is about the level you would expect of a young man in his first season in the top flight.

He would, encouragingly, show signs of true talent, though, with his speed, command of the ball, and dribbling ability admttedly erratic but superb when on song.

His highest profile performance of the 2019/20 season saw him tear champions-elect Liverpool apart, scoring two goals and setting up another in a 3-0 home victory for the Hornets which ended a 44-match unbeaten run for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

At just 23-years-old, he has already been capped 32 times by Senegal. Though he has already completed a big money move in his career, there is a feeling that his next one won’t be too far away – even if Watford will be demanding a significant transfer fee for his services.

Shortly after Sarr’s move to Watford was confirmed, Senegal team-mate Sadio Mane said of him:

“He’s rapid. I think defenders will struggle. Last time I was speaking to Robbo [Andy Robertson] I said ‘Watford have a really good player. I will need to help you more otherwise Ismaila Sarr will kill you, because he is a good dribbler and very, very fast.’

“I’m a bit jealous, because I won’t see him at Liverpool.

“I’m really happy for him and he made the right choice to come to Watford. For sure I think he will be great.”

Poor Andy.

What clubs are interested in Ismaila Sarr?

It was clear that Klopp was impressed with what he witnessed after Sarr took Liverpool down, as the following summer he would make the winger one of his targets for the transfer window.

The German was eager to add some competition for places in the attacking areas, with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane used to playing basically every game.

They allegedly contacted Watford about the transfer, but after baulking at the asking price, they soon stepped away from negotiations and signed Diogo Jota from Wolves instead.

However, Liverpool remain interested in the acquisition of a right winger this summer, so could may a play for him again.

Another team desperate for a right winger is Manchester United, who have spent the majority of the last year attempting to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund. When it became clear they wouldn’t get him, they turned their attentions to Sarr and were reportedly “extremely close” to completing a deal.

“We were extremely close, I was personally negotiating with them,” Watford technical secretary Filippo Giraldi said on the Here We Go podcast.

“We weren’t able to reach an agreement. And I think Ismaila is very young, he will arrive for sure. He missed probably an opportunity, but I think also for his football to stay here and get 10 goals and 10 assists, he’s deciding the league.

“I think for Watford in the condition they are at the moment it’s luck he stayed.”

When does Ismaila Sarr’s contract expire?

Sarr’s current contract with Watford expires in the summer of 2024

What is Ismaila Sarr’s Instagram?

Sarr’s Instagram account has 275k followers as of March 2021.

Who is Ismaila Sarr’s girlfriend?

Sarr is currently not dating anyone publicly.