With the uncertainty surrounding the future of West Ham enforcer Issa Diop, it comes as no surprise that Manuel Pellegrini has been linked with a move to reinforce his defence.
Manchester United have been linked strongly with Diop in the past week, with the Daily Mail claiming that the Red Devils have had a £40million bid rejected for the 22-year-old. Those reports were then followed by suggestions that Pellegrini was interested in another young French defender.
West Ham were reported by Nice Matin to hold an interest in 20-year-old Nice stopper Malang Sarr. The French youth international was a near ever-present in Ligue 1 this season, making 35 appearances, attracting the attention of the London club.
Sarr would be a great addition to the squad at the London Stadium, whether as a replacement for Diop or even to partner him.
Looking at Sarr’s stats compared to West Ham’s current defensive partnership in Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena, via WhoScored, it would be hard to make a case for the youngster to replace either of the pair in terms of defensive results.
Both Diop and Balbuena impress in their stats, bettering Sarr in every department despite the youngster’s impressive numbers. Balbuena averages 7.5 clearances per game compared to the Nice stopper’s 2.7, whereas Diop outscores Sarr in terms of blocks made per game.
However, West Ham only averaged 49% possession in the Premier League, and need to keep hold of the ball more should they wish to dominate teams and pick up more points. This is where Sarr would be perfect from a deeper position at West Ham.
On the ball, Sarr’s averages are way higher than the Hammers’ pair – averaging 59.5 passes per game, that’s 20 more passes than both Diop and Balbuena averaged last season.
What is more impressive is the fact despite averaging nearly double the number of passes than the West Ham duo, Sarr still holds a better pass success rate with 89.8% of his passes reaching their intended target.
Manuel Pellegrini is making the right moves in the transfer window, and should Malang Sarr move to London in the summer, a fresh brand of possession-based football could be implemented at the Hammers next season.