Who is Ryan Sessegnon?
Even the most avid football fan can’t claim to watch England’s second tier of football on weeknights. So, when a 16-year-old lad from West London debuted for Fulham against Leeds in the EFL Cup, people were surprised but were not entirely falling out of their seats.
But when that teenager scored a brace vs eventual second-tier champions, Newcastle United, people sat up and listened. Ryan, fondly called ‘Sess’ by his teammates, only grew in stature, signing a professional contract at age 17 and bagging 15 goals in 2017/18 and ultimately winning promotion to the premier league with his boyhood club Fulham.
So who exactly is Ryan Sessegnon, and what does he bring to the Premier League?
Part of the U17 World Cup winning team with England, Ryan lifted the trophy in Kolkata last October, playing a significant role in England’s win. Even in a team full of young-stars like Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, and Mason Mount, Sess shone and is a little different from his compatriots for one key reason.
While the above mentioned players play for hot-shots like Manchester City and Chelsea, Ryan plays for Fulham – a previously second division club that has scraped into the Premier League this season. This led to him playing a mammoth 46 regular season games for his club last season, 41 ahead of midfielder Foden and 17 ahead of Chelsea’s Mount who played 29 games while on loan to Vitesse Arnem in the Netherlands.
While Ryan may not have the natural talent of say, Jadon Sancho, the regular game time has allowed him to flourish and has made him a player who doesn’t shy away from the ball and doesn’t stutter when given a goal-scoring opportunity. While originally a left back, the teen was converted into a winger by coach Slaviša Jokanović – an earth shaking decision for both Sessegnon and Fulham.
Pace is one of the main weapons in Ryan’s arsenal and he loves to sprint down the left flank with the ball, leaving players in his wake as he often crosses high into the box, shoots himself or plays a one-two near the box, delivering a low cross for his teammates to tap into the back of the net. These characteristics along with the fact that Ryan is also a left-back turned winger has led many to compare his game to Gareth Bale.
It is not uncommon to see him twisting and turning past players in such a manner that they are left sprawled across the pitch, as he drives on with the ball. However, this is not to the tune of a young Cristiano Ronaldo, who was regularly criticized for doing too many step-overs. Sessegnon uses his skills to enhance his game, not make it look flamboyant.
For club and country, Sessegnon loves hugging the touchline as he uses his bursts of speed to implode diagonally into the opposition box or make clever passes to his teammates. Ryan has a very good sense of the game and will often give up the ball to make runs through the flank and unselfishly create chances. While he does perform well defensively too, his offensive output will surely convince his current and future coaches to move him to a permanently attacking role, free of most defensive responsibilities.
His shooting is an underrated asset of his, as he is not only capable of shots from outside the penalty area, but also gets into dangerous positions when the ball is not with him and will often score a tap-in or smash the ball into the net from a cross, 10 yards out from goal.
While Ryan made the correct choice by staying at Fulham this season, he will surely not be at Craven Cottage for long with clubs like Tottenham, Manchester United and Liverpool desperate for his signature.
While his style of play is best compared to Gareth bale, a stronger shoot, more physicality and better dribbling could move him to a Bale – Hazard hybrid. That is, a player who has an eye for goal, creates chances and makes you see two with his rapid runs down the wing. Give him a couple of years in the prem, and you could see him tearing it up against Europe’s elite.