Report: 23-year-old thought he had no chance of playing for Chelsea this season, he's now started five of the last six games

Malang Sarr initially believed he wasn’t going to get a look in at Chelsea this term before his luck turned around.

This is according to The Athletic, who state that sources who know the defender well suggest he went into the current campaign fully aware of the reduced role in the squad that awaited him.

Another confidant went as far as to say his chances at that stage were zero.

Many Chelsea fans probably shared Sarr’s stance before the season got underway.

Sarr shunted to the wings

After a relatively disappointing loan spell with Porto, the 23-year-old returned to Cobham with the expectancy of possibly being shipped out again.

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Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

The club’s pursuit of Jules Kounde over the previous summer made this an even greater possibility for one of Frank Lampard’s seven, and least spoken about, signings.

He was reportedly on the verge of joining Bundesliga side Greuther Furth, but the deal collapsed at the last minute.

Even after the Blues failed to capture Kounde and send away the Frenchman, the emergence of Trevoh Chalobah placed another obstacle in Sarr’s pathway to the first team.

Although he was given a squad number for the campaign, few felt the former Nice product was going to play a significant part, if one at all.

Thomas Tuchel kept him ticking over by starting the centre-back away to Brentford in the middle of October, Chelsea’s eighth Premier League game.

He also completed 90 minutes in the Carabao Cup against Aston Villa and Southampton, then it all went quiet again.

Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

Until relatively recently, that’s pretty much all supporters have seen of Sarr since he signed for the European Champions in 2020.

However, thanks to others’ misfortunes, people began to get a bigger picture of the player’s capability.

A S(t)arr is born

Following an injury crisis in the camp, which involved wiping at Ben Chilwell and Trevoh Chalobah at different stages, Sarr was required to step up more than ever.

Step up he most certainly did.

He started and shone in all three matches against Tottenham Hotspur, which included the two semi-final leg victories in the league cup.

Tuchel also gave him the nod for Chelsea’s biggest occasion of the year, away to Manchester City in the middle of January.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Although the Blues lost 1-0, pretty much concluding their title challenge, Sarr showed once again why he is worthy of the Champions League holders.

Add to that another full match at home to Chesterfield in the FA Cup, Sarr has started five of the last six fixtures across all competitions.

Those original doubters now see him as an excellent back-up to Ben Chilwell when he recovers from his injury.

A sentence not many people saw coming a few months ago.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.