Tottenham player came perilously close to Barcelona move as club chief explains why transfer was ‘refused’

Hugo Lloris, Harry Kane and Pape Sarr of Tottenham Credit: Alamy
Hugo Lloris, Harry Kane and Pape Sarr of Tottenham Credit: Alamy

Tottenham midfielder Pape Sarr was close to joining Barcelona before he moved to the Premier League, according to the president of one of his former clubs.

Sarr came through the ranks at Generation Foot in his native Senegal before moving to French side FC Metz in September 2020. He only spent one full season at Metz before a big transfer beckoned, as Tottenham signed him in August 2021. According to the Daily Mail, Tottenham spent £14.5million on him.

Sarr was deemed to be not quite ready to compete for a senior place at Spurs, due to his tender age and lack of experience in a major European league. Therefore, the 20-year-old spent the 2021-22 campaign back on loan at Metz.

Sarr has been attempting to make his mark on Spurs this season. He has made nine appearances under Antonio Conte so far, with six of those coming in the Premier League.

The Senegal international only tends to come on in the latter stages of league matches, so his best learning experiences have come in cup competitions. Unfortunately for Sarr, those opportunities have dried up now Spurs have been knocked out of the FA Cup and Champions League.

He will probably spend a lot of time warming the bench for the rest of the season, unless Spurs’ league position is secured early. But that looks unlikely as Newcastle and Liverpool are chasing them for fourth spot.

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It would not be surprising if Sarr was loaned out by Spurs next season to pick up more game time. He could go back to France or join a lower Premier League team, before potentially returning as a more rounded player.

But things could have been far different for Sarr. The president of his first club Generation Foot, Mady Toure, has revealed how Barca came calling for the midfield talent prior to him joining Metz.

Barcelona fail in push for Tottenham midfielder

The Spanish titans pushed hard to complete a deal, but Toure ‘refused’ their advances as he wanted to prioritise Sarr’s development.

“When they contacted us for Pape Matar Sarr, there was a proposal of 5 billion West African CFA francs (€7.6m, or £6.7m),” Toure said during a recent interview (via Sport Witness). “But I haven’t looked at that amount. I refused, I told myself that the player’s process must be respected.

“He eventually went to FC Metz. You have to have a roadmap for your young people who must take it step by step. It’s important.”

The Generation Foot chief will have been delighted with how Sarr performed at Metz, and when he subsequently achieved a Spurs transfer. However, Toure will now be hoping that Spurs and Sarr choose the correct next step so he can continue his development and not let his career stall.

While staying in England or moving back to France might be beneficial, Sarr has actually had offers from other leagues. Espanyol and Salernitana, from Spain and Italy respectively, have previously discussed his potential loan signing. Those two clubs will be ones to watch if Sarr is put on the loan market at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, a deal involving Spurs and Napoli has been given a major boost by the Italian outfit’s manager Luciano Spalletti.

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