It’s not often you’ll see a team other than PSG, Monaco, Lyon or Marseille on the top of Ligue 1. It’s even rarer that you see a 17-year old anchoring the defense. But let’s just say, 2016 has had a lot of wild cards, and that’s the case with Lucien Favre’s OGC Nice, as Malang Sarr has evolved as a key component of Nice’s table-topping back three, where he tends to line up with Dante and one of Paul Baysse or captain Maxime Le Marchand. The complete package, Sarr boasts strength, ball-playing ability, and has been not only the best young player in France so far, but also the best defender. Like Samuel Umtiti did, Sarr should hold off joining the European elite for a few seasons, and develop, either at Nice or at a mid-level team. We’re talking about a player who signed his first professional contract a month ago, and continues to live at home with his mom. He isn’t good at left back, where Favre has sometimes played him, and like many French defenders his age, he lacks aggression, but he’s got all the tools to be a starter for Les Bleus in the future. One of the best bets Favre has made, he has trusted the left-sided academy product since the first week of the season, and you can see why. He can pick out a winger with a long ball, break the lines of an opponent’s midfield, or win an aerial duel with a hulking target man. Malang Sarr is a baby-faced assassin who’s going to gun down PSG’s dynasty this coming spring.
Photo Credit: JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET