Conte blocks Tottenham departure for increasingly prominent star, with final decision due tomorrow
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Antonio Conte has seemingly had a change of heart about the future of one of their in-demand players, per reports.
January could be a busy month for Tottenham in the transfer market. This time last year, they boosted their squad with the additions of Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski, while allowing the likes of Dele Alli, Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Bryan Gil to find new clubs (permanently in the first case, and temporarily for the rest).
This year, they may need to be active in the transfer market again. There are some areas of the squad that will need strengthening in order to satisfy Conte. After all, his own future as head coach is unclear due to his contract expiring at the end of the season.
As well as deciding who to bring in, though, Tottenham need to consider the futures of players in similar situations to what Alli and company were 12 months ago.
It is fair to say that Conte has had his favourites, as seen by the disparity in the number of appearances he has given to certain members of his squad.
For example, Conte is yet to give a start in the 2022-23 Premier League to Lucas Moura, Djed Spence or Pape Matar Sarr.
As a result, the latter has been linked with a loan move away. Specifically, Salernitana have been exploring the idea of taking him to Serie A for the next six months.
It would be his second loan spell as a Spurs player after he remained with Metz last season following his transfer from them in the summer of 2021.
A move would not seem to harm Conte, who has only given Sarr three appearances in total this season. But according to Sky Sport Italia, he is now set to block the 20-year-old’s move.
Pape Matar Sarr starting to earn Conte trust
The reason is that the Senegal international appears to be gaining Conte’s trust. Indeed, those three appearances he has made this season have all come this month.
Sarr came on as a substitute for the loss to Aston Villa on New Year’s Day, before getting a longer cameo off the bench in the subsequent win at Crystal Palace.
Conte then entrusted him with a start in the FA Cup win over Portsmouth, in which Sarr lasted the full 90 minutes.
Hence, Sarr is working his way towards first-team contention after having to settle for a fringe role in the first part of the season. And it seems Conte has more opportunities in mind for him.
According to the report, Salernitana want to know by Thursday if Tottenham will be letting them have Sarr or not. But it seems Conte has already made up his own mind and will be keeping the African prospect at his disposal.
Under contract in north London until 2026, Sarr will be hoping his gametime continues to show signs of improvement.
At the moment, he may merely be benefitting from the extra space afforded in the aftermath of an injury to Rodrigo Bentancur. When everyone is available, he is still probably behind the Uruguay international, as well as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Yves Bissouma and probably Oliver Skipp, in the pecking order.
Therefore, Sarr still has to fight for his place. But it seems Conte might be starting to warm to him. As such, the holding midfielder will have to make the most of any opportunity he gets in the coming weeks and months.
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