FT Hidden Gem Series: On the rise, Senegal's Ismaila Sarr

Sarr’s fast. He’s Mane fast. It must be a Senegalese thing.
— Tinotenda Magiya, FirstTouch Africa

Remember the world cup star boy? The name that people were looking forward to behold when Senegal played ought to be the Liverpool forward, Sadio Mane, but the African team had much more to offer in terms of depth with the young winger, Ismaila Sarr, stealing the show. The young forward was a surprise starter in the team ahead of the highly rated Keita Balde Diao and he never disappointed. His work-rate on the right flank warranted him a special mention in FirstTouch’s Hidden Gem Series. In this one, we catch up with what the player has been up to as well as making mention of the things that you might not have known about the player before his bow at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.


UEFA Europa League Stunner

Metz' Senegalese midfielder Ismaila Sarr (R) vies for the ball with Caen's French midfielder Julien Feret during the French L1 football match between Metz (FCM) and Caen (SMC) on April 15, 2017 at Saint Symphorien stadium in Longeville-Les-Metz, eastern France. . / AFP PHOTO / Jean Christophe VERHAEGEN  (April 14, 2017 - Source: AFP)

Metz' Senegalese midfielder Ismaila Sarr (R) vies for the ball with Caen's French midfielder Julien Feret during the French L1 football match between Metz (FCM) and Caen (SMC) on April 15, 2017 at Saint Symphorien stadium in Longeville-Les-Metz, eastern France. . / AFP PHOTO / Jean Christophe VERHAEGEN

(April 14, 2017 - Source: AFP)

On Thursday, 20th of September, Ismaila star made the headlines for scoring a stunner in a UEFA Europa League match between his club, Stade Rennais and FK Jablonec. He received the ball on the left wing before playing a one two with a player in front of the arch before rifling in a short from 25 yards out which landed in the top right corner. There was only so much the keeper could do to stop Sarr’s opener. His club went on to win the match 2-1 thanks to another goal scored by Hartem Ben Arfa, another French player with African roots.


His start to the 2018/19 season

Sarr’s star has not been shy of goals having already scored 2 in the French Ligue 1 in just four starts. That’s an average of a goal in every 180 minutes. That is not actually a bad return for a 20-year old player still trying to find his feet at a new club which he moved to a little over a year ago. The Senegalese international is set to take Europe by storm having seen how other young players like Kylian Mbappe have developed their skills in the same league and have gone on to join Paris Saint Germain in a record breaking deal for a teenager. This should serve as enough motivation to up his game and impress Europe’s bigger sisters who can take his game to the next level. The player, however, looks happy and settled in Sabri Lamouchi’s team which is a positive for the club if they are to bring the best out of the African. The UEFA Europa League fixtures for Stade Rennais will be a priceless opportunity to see the young talent as he fares against some better opponents from across Europe. Fingers crossed that he won’t get any bad injuries which tend to slow most players’ progress.

Sarr’s Roots

Ismaila Sarr of Senegal and Juan Quintero of Colombia in action during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group H match between Senegal and Colombia at Samara Arena on June 28, 2018 in Samara, Russia.  (June 27, 2018 - Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images Europe)

Ismaila Sarr of Senegal and Juan Quintero of Colombia in action during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group H match between Senegal and Colombia at Samara Arena on June 28, 2018 in Samara, Russia.

(June 27, 2018 - Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images Europe)

You must be curious to find out how these amazing talents are identified, developed, and scouted to play for such teams. Ismaila Sarr was born in Saint-Louis, Senegal. He started his career at Generation Foot, a Senegalese football club in 2009. The player then signed for FC Metz, a French team in Ligue 2 on 13 July 2016. The skills he possessed in his locker could not allow him to respect his 5-year contract with the club as Stade Rennais came calling for his services just a year later. He has been with the club ever since.

What you need to know about him?

1. Sarr’s fast. He’s Mane fast. It must be a Senegalese thing.

2. The youngster is hard working. He has the energy to drop back and help out the defenders when out of possession.

3. He’s unorthodox. Sarr is unpredictable sometimes when in possession but that does not take away his quality contribution to the team.

4. He’s young which means there is a lot more to come from him.


FirstTouch sheds the light on the African players that seem to be under the radar. Sarr’s the latest. Follow him in his career as he plays for Stade Rennais and the Senegalese national team.