At 16-years-old Ryan Sessegnon should probably be plying his trade in the academy leagues. However, this dynamic attacking left back is playing for Fulham’s first team in the Championship and his rise has been nothing short of meteoric.
Sessegnon made his league debut against Leeds United at Elland Road in a 1-1 draw back in August 2016. His calmness on the ball, along with his blistering pace immediately attracted interest from some of England’s biggest clubs. He’s made 18 league appearances this year, while also featuring for England Under-19s five times, scoring once.
There’s significant buzz around Sessegnon in England, and it’s not surprising. The national team haven’t had a world class left back since Ashley Cole was in his pomp. With the emergence of Sessegnon from the Fulham academy, the hopes are he can fill the void many were expecting Manchester United’s Luke Shaw would be able to fill.
One person who isn’t taking his eye off the immediate challenges ahead though is Sessegnon. While the attention is welcomed, Sessegnon has gone on record as saying he is fully committed to his “boyhood club” Fulham amid interest from some of the Premier League heavyweights. He told The Express. “I am a Fulham player, this is my club, I love being at this club. The opportunities I have had this season have been great and on a personal note I just want to help the team gain promotion to the Premier League where we belong. I don’t pay too much attention to it [the talk in the press] I just focus on one job and that is playing for Fulham.”
If reports are accurate, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United are all showing interest in Sessegnon’s progression. The fact that a 16-year-old is getting first team football is enough of a story on its own. And to see Sessegnon play, you would think that he’s been playing first team football for a number of years.
Fulham’s attacking prowess has been impressive in the Championship even if they are currently outside of the Playoff spots. Journalist Mike Norman who covers the Championship as well as the Premier League for Betfair, documented that leading up to a home game against fellow Playoff rivals Leeds United in March, the side had scored a remarkable 22 goals in five games. This is no part down to attacking options such as Sessegnon who has been playing either at left back or left wing back for the Cottagers. Sessegnon has also contributed four goals this season – not a bad tally for a player in his first competitive season as a professional.
Too often young players move to big clubs and their development suffers. Former Fulham left back Paul Konchesky also feels Sessegnon should stay with the club and continue his development at Craven Cottage. He told 888Sport: “Obviously as an older player now I always like to see the younger players stay at the club they’re getting a chance with and make a name for themselves,” said the former England international. “He’s certainly doing that right now. Another big year with Fulham and you just don’t know what’s around the corner but if Fulham go up to the Premier League then why would he have to leave?”
However, as we’ve often seen the lure of the Premier League is too strong for many players due to the money involved in the game right now. Sessegnon would fit into many of the big clubs plans, below is why:
Arsenal: Nacho Monreal has struggled in the Premier League this season and the Gunners are actively looking to replace him in the summer.
Chelsea: Sessegnon would fit into Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 formation as a marauding wing back.
Man Utd: Luke Shaw hasn’t come on as expected at Old Trafford and reports suggest Jose Mourinho is looking for a replacement.
Liverpool: James Milner is currently filling in at left back because of Alberto Moreno’s poor form.
Man City: Both Clichy and Kolorov have been inconsistent under Pep Guardiola. Sessegnon would be an ideal replacement, as he would also contribute to City’s homegrown player quota.