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.