Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League • England

Barcelona plot steal of ‘fundamental’ Tottenham midfielder they’re now spying on at AFCON

Tottenham stars Yves Bissouma, Pape Sarr and James Maddison

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Pape Matar Sarr has been named as a player Barcelona are monitoring at the Africa Cup of Nations after assigning a scout with a shortlist of six names.

In anticipation of the January transfer window, Tottenham were bracing themselves for the temporary departure of Sarr at AFCON, where he is part of the Senegal squad, but if Mundo Deportivo is to be believed, they may have a longer-term absence to worry about.

According to the Spanish source, Barcelona have sent a scout to AFCON in order to observe some players who could become targets for Xavi’s side.

There are six players being viewed and Sarr is said to be one of them, having proven himself as a ‘fundamental’ pillar of Ange Postecoglou’s plans at Tottenham.

His ‘good vision’ is deemed to be one of his appealing traits, as well as his efficiency. The fact he is a holding midfielder will make him of particular interest to Barcelona, who said an emotional goodbye to Sergio Busquets in the summer of 2023.

Barcelona’s initial reaction was to bring back former Chelsea and Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu from Girona as a short-term reinforcement, but in an ideal world, they will be on the lookout for a long-term midfield pivot.

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Sarr has the kind of profile they would benefit from, so it seems his every move is being tracked, even when playing for his country.

Of course, it was only recently that Tottenham agreed to extend Sarr’s contract until 2030, which gives them a strong position when it comes to any negotiations and will make things harder for Barcelona amid their own economic pressures.

But at the age of 21, Sarr could have a bright future ahead of him and that means other clubs are unlikely to lose sight of him.

Full Barcelona shortlist revealed

For what it’s worth, the other five players mentioned by Mundo Deportivo as being of interest to Barcelona scouts are Sporting and Ivory Coast centre-back Ousmane Diomande, Club Brugge and Nigeria midfielder Raphael Onyedika, Bournemouth and Burkina Faso wide man Dango Ouattara, Lyon and Ghana forward Ernest Nuamah and Gambia winger Yankuba Minteh, who is on loan at Feyenoord from Newcastle United at club level.

Perhaps the interest in Onyedika, as a fellow midfielder, will give Tottenham some breathing space with regards to Sarr, but Barcelona will be weighing up all their options.

Sarr’s next commitment at AFCON will be on Monday when Senegal take on the hosts Ivory Coast in the round of 16.

Without him – and Yves Bissouma, who is representing Mali – Tottenham have been relying on the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Oliver Skipp and Rodrigo Bentancur in their midfield.

Hojbjerg himself is facing an uncertain future due to interest from European clubs and the fact that his contract with Tottenham is up at the end of next season.

In a nutshell, he might be more likely to leave Tottenham before Sarr, although exactly where to remains to be seen.

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