Liverpool look to have won the race to sign Fulham wonderkid Ryan Sessegnon. The Reds have reportedly beaten the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Chelsea to secure the services of the incredibly talented and highly sought after 17-year-old.
Back in March, Football.London, in an exclusive, claimed Jürgen Klopp and the recruitment team at Anfield had been working tirelessly for quite some time to ensure Merseyside was the players destination of choice. The time and effort spent courting the player has seemingly paid off.
BREAKING: Liverpool win race for 16 Year Old Left Back, Ryan Sessegnon, over Arsenal and Tottenham. [Yahoo Sports] pic.twitter.com/9hr8Mvpe6H
— LFC Transfer Room (@LFCTransferRoom) March 16, 2017
Yahoo Sports then reported that their sources believed the teenager had rejected the chance to stay in London in favour of a move up North. The Reds had sold he youngster on the idea of being their future first choice left-back.
Over recent days Miguel Delaney has reported that Sessengon tops Klopp’s summer wish list.
Alberto Moreno has seemingly failed to convince Klopp that he can be trusted to do a job there and James Milner, who has filled in at left-back admirably for the majority of the campaign, isn’t a viable long-term solution there.
The former Manchester City midfielder is already 31 years old and there are limitations to him playing that role. He has obvious weaknesses that are destined to be exposed when playing against Europe’s elite – which Liverpool have aspirations of doing with Champions League well within their sights.
Fulham fan, and Football Whispers writer, Thomas McIlroy wrote a detailed profile on Sessegnon at the beginning of February highlighting both his strengths – of which he has many – and his weaknesses.
“Any decent British youngster who plays on the left will be dubbed the new Gareth Bale, but it is easy to see why he is attracting interest from the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
“I think his future lies further forward than at left back (against Blackburn Rovers he was moved from left wing to left-back and they targeted that side of Fulham’s defence with quite a lot of success) and he’s got a lot of work to do, but he seems focussed, you only hear good things about him coming out of the club.
“It is incredible he’s only 17, you would think he was much more experienced.”
The comparisons to Gareth Bale should have Liverpool fans excited at the prospect of Sessegnon tearing down the left for the next decade or so. But at the same time there must be a seed of doubt in there heads at the idea of yet another attacking left-back not being able to balance his defensive responsibilities.
Moreno showed a lot of promise with former club Sevilla and many praised his attacking nature. That is until they witnessed it first hand and saw just how exposed the team can look defensively when their full-back is that aggressive.
Would Sessegnon Suit Klopp’s Liverpool?
Liverpool may line-up as a 4-3-3 team on paper but in practice it’s more of a 3-4-3 with the wide attackers pushing centrally and all the width coming from the full-backs. They’re almost like wide midfielders who occasionally have to do some defensive work with the Reds looking to dominate possession.
Milner is, on average, attempting 60.1 passes per 90 minutes and completing 80.6 per cent of them. A lot of his passes are into the feet of Philippe Coutinho as he looks to break the defensive lines and get the ball into dangerous areas.
However, the issue with Milner is he’s right footed. No matter how well he performs and how many people he impresses that will always be a problem. He’s rarely going to beat a man on the outside and often looks to cut onto his stronger foot. This makes Liverpool pretty narrow and almost makes the left hand flank a little redundant from time to time.
Fulham play a possession based game so Sessegnon is used to seeing the ball and using it wisely. He attempts 34.3 passes, not as many as his Liverpool counterparts but it is on par with the likes of Everton pair Leighton Baines (34) and Seamus Coleman (35), completing 81.6 per cent of them.
While his attacking nature can see him caught of position from time to time it’s not something Liverpool are strangers to. The midfield are used to covering for both Milner and Clyne meaning having to do so for the teenage sensation wouldn’t be an issue.
What’s worth looking at is Sessegnon’s tackling. He wins 1.5 per game, 1 fewer than Milner, and makes just the 0.5 interceptions per 90 minutes as opposed to the Liverpool left-backs 1.2. But it’s when watching him that you notice how mature he is in his approach to winning the ball back.
In the pictures above you see Sessegnon making up ground before resisting the urge to dive in and instead staying on his feet before winning the ball back and starting the attack. It’s something that can be often overlooked but many defenders are a little too eager to slide these days but the Fulham man uses his pace to negate the need to lunge in.
— Ryan Sessegnon (@RyanSessegnon) March 11, 2017
Sessegnon has six goals so far this season with the majority of his appearances coming as a left-back. That tells you all you need to know about his attacking instincts and his actual ability when in the oppositions penalty area.
He netted a double in the 3-1 win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park in a performance which earned him rave reviews. The natural thought would be to suggest such a return from a left-back isn’t sustainable, especially not in the Premier League.
But, if you look at the situations he regularly finds himself in you can’t help but feel he’ll continue to be a goal threat. He has a knack for popping up in the penalty area.
He scored one of the easiest goals of his career against Cardiff City. Fulham regained possession centrally – as shown in the first picture – and as they look to build an attack Sessegnon gets on his bike down the left.
In the second picture he’s taken up a position towards the back-post and after a shot is palmed away by the home side’s goalkeeper he’s on hand to tap home the rebound like a natural striker.
He’s got all the tools to develop into quite the player. Under the guidance of Klopp Liverpool could have an exciting player at their disposal if the reports are true and he has decided to join the Reds.