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20th Feb 2024

Chelsea player Pochettino forgot about has been banished from the first-team

Callum Boyle

Malang Sarr

It’s been two years since his last appearance for Chelsea

Chelsea have a big squad. A massive squad, in fact.

You could probably look through the list and go ‘oh, I forgot he played there’ or ‘who is that?’

Well, the latter is exactly what manager Mauricio Pochettino did when asked about a player back in August.

The player in question was Malang Sarr. Having joined from Nice on a five-year deal in 2020, Sarr was highly rated and tipped to be someone who would be a huge success for Chelsea. In reality, it’s been a disaster.

On March 12 it will be one year since the defender last featured in a competitive game when he played in Monaco’s 1-0 defeat to Reims.

It will now be almost two years since he last turned out for Chelsea, with The Athletic revealing that his close friends have been left concerned by his behaviour, saying they’ve never seen him as down as he is.

Sarr came close to leaving in the summer but remains in exile at Stamford Bridge

At one stage last summer it looked like the Frenchman would be making a return to Ligue 1 to join Le Havre only for a move to break down at the eleventh hour, sparking anger from the club, who made accusations about the Blues’ conduct in the deal.

Fast forward to the arrival of Pochettino, Sarr was subsequently left out of the club’s tour of the USA and has been training with the Under-21s ever since.

If not in their sessions, the 25-year-old will train individually with a coach or with a younger age group.


Pochettino didn’t even know who he was

Perhaps the most damning part of the sad tale is after Chelsea’s first win of the season against Luton Town back in August.

After being asked about the defender, Pochettino simply said: “Who?”.

Sarr has since had his first-team locker cleared out and now gets ready in the Chelsea academy. Sources at the club – who didn’t want to be named – also told The Athletic that the defender didn’t want to be considered for selection.

Read next: PSG want to sign Marcus Rashford to replace Kylian Mbappe, and Man United should cash in.

One of the 25-year-old’s close associates, also unnamed, revealed that Sarr has struggled to cope with his ostracisation from the squad, saying: “I have never seen him as low as this. This is the first time I have seen him like this. He tries to change his mental state, but it is hard when you are not playing.

“He is not in the first-team dressing room anymore, he is with the kids in the other building. He feels outside the group. He tries to hide his feelings, but I know him, what he is really feeling.

“He wants to play football and works hard for that. He is completely fit. But at the moment, he does not know where he is going to play. Friends and family go stay with him occasionally. It is important for him to have people around him.

“He loved playing under Tuchel. But some of the closest friends he made, like N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount, have left. He goes to train because it is his job but I know he finds it very hard because any footballer who knows they are not going to play matches will find it difficult.”

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