Results in France’s second division this weekend have seen FC Metz take a four point lead over Angers and Lens at the top of Ligue 2. With the score level at 1- against Caen on Friday night, 24-year-old striker Diafra Sakho popped up on the 55th minutes and fired Metz towards all three points. The result not only kept the home fans happy, but it would have pleased the scouts that had made the trip the Lorraine region of France in order to watch Sakho score his 13th goal of the season.
Newcastle United have been linked with a move for the Metz youth product and speaking to Inside Futbol, Academy Chief, Denis Schaeffer was quick to point out they are not the only club showing an interest:
"Every game, there are around 15 international clubs who come to the matches to see him. English clubs are here.
"I'm happy he'll stay until the end of the season. Then it will be difficult for us to keep him.
"I hope his future will be at a very important club, like [former Metz academy product] Papiss Cisse, who plays now at Newcastle."
Sakho has been a relatively late bloomer, and it the age of 19/20 he wasn’t up to competing at the highest level. Last season Metz won promotion to Ligue 2 after finishing second in the Championnat National behind Parisian side, Creteil. On the way to promotion Sakho scored 19 goals and caught the attention of quite a few French clubs.
For Newcastle, the move would still hold a high amount of risk. Very few players are able to make the move from Ligue 2 direct to the Premier League. Chief Scout Graham Carr took a risk on Romain Amalfitano after the midfielder had impressed for Stade de Reims in Ligue 2. Amalfitano is now on loan at Ligue 2 side Dijon without making a league appearance.
This summer Arsenal signed forward Yaya Sanogo straight from Auxerre in Ligue 2, the 21-year-old scored 10 goals in 13 appearances in Ligue 2 last season, but after being plagued with injuries, he has only played nine minutes for the Arsenal first team.
Senegal national team coach, and former French international midfielder, Alain Giresse, recently was quoted as saying that Sakho had become “ a very interesting footballer.” However with the likes of Cisse, Demba Ba and Moussa Sow already ahead of the young forward, a place in this year’s World Cup squad might be out of the question.
There is no doubt that Sakho is an exciting talent, he is tall and strong and is able to play as the central striker. He is very adept at holding the ball up and bringing people into play. He is also equipped with good speed and pace, he likes to run onto balls over the top and this versatility makes his very dangerous.
The doubt would be whether he could make the leap from Ligue 2 to the Premier League, a jump that players in the past have struggled with. Although he has 13 goals, his finishing could still improve, so could the use of his left-foot, all the ingredients are there though.
At Newcastle United, the pressure would be instantaneous, and expectations would be very high. The best career path would be to win promotion to Ligue 1 with Metz and either stay, or play at least one season of Top-flight French football.