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One player who is currently attracting serious interest from clubs all over the world is Fulham’s energetic left sided dynamo Ryan Sessegnon.
Constantly linked with big money moves to a whole host of Premier League sides, as well as European giants Real Madrid, Fulham know they have got some player on their hands.
Born in the Roehampton area of London in the year 2000, Sessegnon joined the Fulham academy at Under 9 level in 2008. His remarkable rise to stardom is made even more incredible by the fact that he is just 17 years old, turning 18 in May. In August 2016, just one season ago, Sessegnon made his first team debut at just 16 years old and 81 days, coming on in an EFL Cup tie against Leyton Orient.
Just a week later, he made his Championship debut, in a 1-1 draw with Leeds United. Despite emerging as a Left-Back, it too just three appearances for Sessegnon to open his goal-scoring account for the Cottagers, scoring a historic goal against Cardiff City. The reason why this goal was historic is because Sessegnon became the youngest ever Championship goal scorer at just 16 years old, also setting history by becoming the player to score a professional goal in England who was born in the 21st Century.
What ever becomes of his career, no-one can ever take such an accolade away from him, meaning his place in history is already assured. Sessegnon finished his debut season with 30 appearances, switching between left back and a more advanced role in left wing, and managed an impressive 7 goals. This form led to him setting more history, as he became the youngest ever player to be named in the Championship Team of the Year, ousting competition from Scott Malone and Chris Lowe to be named at left-back.
Such form saw Sessegnon linked with moves to a host of clubs such as Everton, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and even RB Leipzig, however he pledged his alliance to his boyhood club and signed a professional contract until 2020. Following Scott Malone’s transfer to Huddersfield Town, Sessegnon was handed the number 3 shirt, signalling Slavisa Jokanovic’s plans for the 17-year-old.
He continued this season where he finished the last, in fine form, scoring goals and creating history. In a 5-4 thriller against Sheffield United, Sessegnon scored his first career hat-trick in his 50th appearance for the club, becoming the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick in the English Football League, surpassing Dele Alli.
He has also broken into the International scene, featuring heavily in England Under 19s European Championship win in summer 2017. He scored 3 tournament goals, finishing as joint top scorer and was named in Team of the Tournament. Having played a prominent part in the England set up already, don’t be too surprised if he was handed a surprise place on the plane to Russia! With the January window now among us, expect plenty of interest in Sessegnon, as he continues to set record after record, creating more and more history.
Rumour has it that Tottenham Hotspur may be lining up a £50 million move, and with clubs circling like sharks for the youngster, expect Fulham looking to take full advantage of the inflated transfer fees. One thing is for certain though, and that is that Sessegnon is heading right to the top!
Strengths & Weaknesses
The first thing that springs to mind is the fact that he has played so many games, impressed so much but is still only 17. There is a tendency for youngsters breaking into the first team to be raw and naive, and although Ryan has been at times, he has played with such an assured level of confidence of someone way beyond his youth.
Furthermore, his attitude remains first class despite being linked with the world’s top clubs, and he remains solely focused on playing football, rather than demanding a move. He has recently been quoted to say “when you are young you just want to play as many games as you can”, and this positive attitude is reflected by his performances.
One major strength is his goal scoring ability, even when he pays at left back Sessegnon still provides a great goal threat. A goal-scoring return of 14 goals in 58 career appearances so far is one which a striker would be proud of, let alone a young left back.
His versatility is also a key trait, as he is an attacking left back who is equally comfortable on the left wing, making him a vital asset in both penalty boxes. With the current trend in the top flight being to play a back 3 with a reliance on attacking wing backs, Sessegnon looks as though he has all the attributes to be a natural left wing back, hence all the interest from the top sides.
Because he provides such an attacking threat, Sessegnon has been susceptible to making a few defensive errors and being caught out too high up the field. This could be down to either the fact that he is probably more naturally an attacking minded player, and because he is of course only 17. As being widely tipped to be the next England left back and the heir to Ashley Cole, Sessegnon’s defensive game does require improvement.
One thing Sessegnon needs to be wary about is to not fall into a trap which so many young highly rated players have in the past. There is so many cases of young players who with the world at their feet who have gone on to fail to reach their full potential due to one reason or another, with names such as Jack Rodwell, Micah Richards, Steven Caulker and Ravel Morrison springing to mind. This is where the importance of the psychological side of the game comes into play, where Sessegnon needs those around him, in particular manager Slavisa Jokanovic, to ensure his feet are kept on the ground and that the pressure and speculation of a big money move doesn’t get to his head and start affecting his game.
One thing is for certain, if he keeps his feet on the ground and keeps developing at this alarming rate, Sessegnon is certainly the future of English football.
What They Say
Stefan Johansen – Fulham Midfeilder
“I’m 99% certain he will be one of the top left-backs in the world”
Tony Khan – Fulham Chairman
“Ryan’s debut season with the first team was spectacular, and we are so proud of this very special young man, proud of his accomplishments and the great skills he’s demonstrated on the pitch. I’m so excited about Ryan’s future with Fulham Football Club.”
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