Mauricio Pochettino

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Premier League clubs battle for 16-year-old Sessegnon

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Ryan Sessegnon is just 16 years old, but he’s already highly coveted.

The Fulham left-back became the first player born after the turn of the millennium to score in any of the top four English leagues, and he immediately turned the heads of some of the Premier League’s top teams.

Sessegnon scored a double against Championship leaders Newcastle last weekend, and his value to Fulham was made painfully obvious when manager Slavisa Jokanovic denied the youngster a chance at a hat-trick as he prohibited Sessegnon from taking a late penalty, one that Tim Ream missed. Jokanovic likely wished for Sessegnon to stay out of the headlines, but the damage had already been done.

Premier League teams have been swirling around the youngster for months, with rumors of interest from teams like Tottenham and Liverpool earlier in the season. Sessegnon isn’t a regular for the Whites, instead splitting time at left-back with Scott Malone, but a recent spell of good form has seen his stock rise considerably. His pace and ability to pick out a pass has teams salivating, despite his stick-like frame.

With Fulham on the cusp of a playoff spot, it’s possible that Sessegnon could see Premier League action next year without a move, but should the Whites miss out on promotion, there will be a summer of tension as the Championship club looks to keep hold of its young talent.

Liverpool seems the most sensible destination of the teams mentioned, as Jurgen Klopp has been searching for a long-term solution while James Milner continues to deputize on the defensive line. Still, the question remains whether Sessegnon is ready for a step up to higher competition. Two summers ago Fulham saw Patrick Roberts – another undersized youngster – leave for Manchester City, and while he remains a future option, he still has yet to make a serious impression on loan at Celtic. City has time for Roberts to develop, but Liverpool’s left-back situation calls for slightly more urgency.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino got an up-close look at Sessegnon during the 3-0 Spurs win over Fulham in FA Cup play a few weeks ago. Other teams mentioned as tracking the 16-year-old include Everton and Newcastle, with the latter looking set for the Premier League next season. Sessegnon would compete with 25-year-old Paul Dummett at Newcastle, while the Toffees could be looking for a long-term replacement to Everton mainstay Leighton Baines.

It would seem that, as it is with highly coveted playmaker Tom Cairney, Fulham’s best hope to keep hold of Sessegnon seems to be promotion, but if that doesn’t happen, the sharks will smell an opportunity to poach yet another talented youth product off Motspur Park.

Men In Blazers podcast: Pochettino, Lloris discuss “To Dare Is To Do”

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Rog speaks with Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, and head of coaching and development John McDermott in a preview of his film, “Premier League Download: Tottenham Hotspur: To Dare is to Do” which airs Sunday at 11 a.m. ET after Spurs vs. Stoke City on NBCSN.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Europa League: Spurs look to overturn 1-0; La Liga resurgent?

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Who will join Manchester United, Schalke, and Krasnodar in the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16?

Four-goal leads give Roma and Rostov a very good shot at advancing, while Anderlecht, AZ Alkmaar and Besiktas will also like their chances of moving forward.

[ MORE: Leicester grabs away goal ]

But plenty remains up for grabs, including Tottenham Hotspur’s chance of moving to the Round of 16. Spurs trail Gent 1-0 after their road leg, and now have to get a shutout or two-goal win at Wembley.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino says his side can’t push too hard, too soon, if it wants to move onto the next:

“We need to be patient. It’s important to know that tomorrow is a game that we need to win, that is in our mind. We need to turn the result (around) and it’s true that we need to have very good balance – that is key. It’s important for us to keep the balance between attacking and defence because it’s only 1-0 from the first leg and now we have time to turn it (around). We need to be clever, play well, be aggressive and improve our performance from the game in Belgium.”

Spanish sides are in danger of elimination on Thursday. While Athletic Bilbao won its first leg versus APOEL Nicosia, it allowed two road goals. Villarreal trails Roma 4-0, and Celta Vigo is down 1-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Full Thursday schedule

11 a.m. EDT
Osmanlispor vs. Olympiacos (0-0)

1 p.m. EDT
Apoel Nicosia vs. Athletic Bilbao (AB leads 3-2)
Besiktas vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva (Besiktas leads 3-1)
Ajax vs. Legia Warsaw (0-0)
Roma vs. Villarreal (Roma leads 4-0)
Zenit Saint Petersburg vs. Anderlecht (Zenit trails 2-0)
Fiorentina vs. Borussia Monchengladbach (Gladback trails 1-0)

3:05 p.m. EDT
Lyon vs. AZ Alkmaar (Lyon leads 4-1)
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Celta Vigo (Shakhtar trails 1-0)
Sparta Prague vs. Rostov (Rostov leads 4-0)
Genk vs. Astra Giurgiu (2-2)
Copenhagen vs. Ludogorets (Copenhagen leads 2-1)
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Gent (Spurs trail 1-0)

Slumping Spurs “have to be clever” to stop rot

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Spurs have hit a thorny patch of form at a congested time in their schedule.

After a drowsy display against Liverpool last weekend, Mauricio Pochettino‘s men couldn’t find the back of the net in Belgium against Gent in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.

[ MORE: FA Cup predictions ]

The 1-0 loss isn’t crushing, but leaves little room for error in London on Thursday.

Still, Pochettino says that Gent’s edge is slim. From TottenhamHotspur.com:

“When you lose it’s always a bad feeling but the tie is open, it’s a minimal advantage for Gent and we need to play at Wembley next Thursday and try to win the game,” said Mauricio.

“We are confident we can turn it around, of course. We need to recover our best feeling as soon as possible. It always happens, ups and downs, but we have to be clever and try to stop that.”

The next chance to do just that is Sunday against Fulham. A London Derby against a lower league side could be the perfect prescription for Pochettino, though we suspect the Cottagers will be ready.

Pochettino calls on Spurs to improve results away to top-6 sides

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Tottenham Hotspur won’t be true Premier League title contenders until they improve their results away to the rest of the sides harboring title aspirations of their own — generally speaking, the top-six.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking ahead of Tottenham’s seasonal trip to Anfield (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and online via NBCSports.com), where they’ll take on a reeling Liverpool side without a single PL victory in 2017 (just one win in all competitions — in the FA Cup, over Plymouth Argyle), Pochettino sees this as the perfect time to right the wrongs that have plagued his reign — quotes from the Guardian:

“[We struggle at] top-six clubs because we have had some draws and some losses. It’s true that this is a good opportunity to change that stat.”

“We had the same problem in November — every club can have ups and downs. They are not in a good run but have very good players, one of best squads in England or even Europe, they will be motivated as this is always a big match. When we play them it will be very high-tempo and intense. If we win it will be important to keep our good position and put pressure on Chelsea. It’s not decisive but it’s important.”

First things first, let’s see if the numbers are true to Pochettino’s diagnosis that Spurs throw away too many points away to the rest of the top-six. Yup, his story more than checks out.

[ MORE: “I think that’s it” for Wenger; “he’s coming to the end,” says Wright ]

A little more than two and a half seasons into Pochettino’s tenure at White Hart Lane, Spurs are 7W-13D-9L against Arsenal (unbeaten at 1W-4D-0L), Chelsea (2W-2D-2L), Liverpool (0W-3D-2L), Manchester City (3W-1D-2L) and Manchester United (1W-1D-3L). Not terrible, but well below a rate of 50 percent of possible points won.

Away from home, Pochettino’s record against those sides is a disastrous 1W-6D-8L.