With Watford back in the Premier League it means that we also get back a player that many a Fantrax manager fell in love with during the 19/20 season. Ismaila Sarr. The Senegal winger had moments of brilliance during the Hornets' relegation campaign. Could he be the next big thing in Fantasy EPL? Lets take a look!
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Ismaila Sarr: The Next Big Thing?
Let's kick this off with a little humour. During Project Restart of the 19/20 campaign I was part of the DPL Community League end of season extravaganza, aptly named the Super League. For this, all 12 Fantrax managers undertook a re-draft ahead of the season restating. I drafted Ismaila Sarr in the third round. 26th overall pick. Before players like Pulisic, Digne, Ward-Prowse, Ings and Antonio. Anyone remember how he performed? Sarr completely bombed during Project Restart and Watford were relegated. Nice.
Its safe to say I'm a big fan of Sarr. My third round pick above did not work out well at all. But this season he's coming back to the Premier League a much better player. I genuinely think he has potential to be a great Fantasy EPL asset. Read below as I delve into the reason's why!
Sarr joined Watford in August 2019, for a fee in the region of £30m. A big money signing for a bottom half of the table side. The Senegalese winger was slow to adapt to the Premier League, with many draft managers dropping him to the free agent pool whilst they waited for him to start performing. Sarr broke into the starting eleven as Watford headed into Christmas, and quickly became a favourite of mine. Think of a less impactful version of Raphinha from the 20/21 season!
Sarr's two goals and assist against Liverpool in February was the highlight of his season, as his inspirational performance led to Liverpool's first defeat in 44 games. I don't want to dwell too much on his poor performances during Project Restart as mentioned above, but Sarr still ended up with a decent points haul in his debut campaign. 5 goals and 7 assists in 28 games is pretty good. Sarr was the 6th best forward for accurate crosses, and 19th best for successful dribbles.
Sarr had a strong 20/21 campaign as Watford gained automatic promotion back to the Premier League. He played 39 games and amassed just under 3,500 minutes. I think this is exactly what Sarr needed. A full season in the starting eleven in order to fully get used to what it takes to play in England. Of course the Championship is very different to the Premier League, but it still would have done him the world of good!
The Senegalese international scored 13 goals, and provided 4 assists. Sarr also averaged 1.1 key pass per game, and 1.9 successful dribbles. If we delve a little further into his stats as per WhoScored.com though, this tells us that Sarr excels when fielded further forward. He played 14 games for Watford as a forward right, scoring 8 goals and providing 2 assists in this position. Obviously these stats are not close to those delivered by Buendia in the Championship last season, but they are still fairly encouraging.
Style of Play
Sarr is a good finisher, and excellent at dribbling. He's only 23 years old, and will obviously continue to improve his game over the next few years. He's got all the makings of a great Fantrax asset, with points on offer for successful dribbles, key passes, and accurate crosses, as well as the obvious attacking returns. Sarr is also likely to be on penalty duties, as long as club captain Deeney remains outside of the best XI. He scored the penalty in Watford's 1-0 win over Millwall to seal their return to the Premier League.
Fantasy EPL Prospects
You may have read the above and be wondering what all the fuss is about, as his statistics are good but not amazing. As mentioned, nowhere near the level of Norwich's former superstar Buendia. But that's kind of my point. Draft managers will be looking at Sarr and thinking he'll be fine for a mid to late round draft pick. I think he'll be better value. For this season and future seasons. Liverpool were considering signing him last summer before opting for Jota. That shows the potential he has, and why he needs to be bumped up your pre-season draft rankings!
I think Sarr will certainly be a Top 70 player this season, potentially Top 50. In future seasons he'll gain more prominence and potentially reach the levels of international teammate Sadio Mane in a few years time. Hopefully Watford will perform fairly well this season, and provide Sarr with plenty of opportunities to show how good he can really be.
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