Chelsea loanee Malang Sarr has played a key role in FC Porto’s Champions League journey this season, including earlier in the week when they eliminated Juventus in the Round of 16. His involvement in Porto’s league matches has been less consistent — as have his performances — with manager Sérgio Conceição preferring former Real Madrid defender Pepe and former Newcastle man Chancel Mbemba as his first-choice central defensive partnership.
But for Sarr, the decision to join the Portuguese giants on loan had as much to do with general fitness as it had with the football itself. With the French league canceling the 2019-20 season at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, Sarr was in need of not only career development after that stalled at Nice, but simply just getting back to actually playing. And that was never going to happen at Chelsea last summer.
“I was training with Chelsea before I got loaned. The loan was part of the plan. I had to be honest with myself, my season ended in March and I wasn’t going to be successful right away with Chelsea.”
“It was the perfect solution because I wanted to do a season at a top club like Porto, to be good and then later take a place at Chelsea.”
-Malang Sarr; Source: L’Équipe via Sport Witness
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia’s official statement at the time of Sarr’s signing already alluded to this long-term plan, and it’s something that the 22-year-old evidently has in mind as well.
Sarr might not have had as impressive of a season as some of our other loanees so far, or some of our current players for that matter, but he once held great promise as a teenager playing in France’s top division, and he might just shine for a big club like Chelsea if given the chance.