Ryan Sessegnon, Fulham’s 17-year old football phenom and one of Tottenham Hotspur’s top transfer targets, quashed the rumors that he would be playing for Spurs next summer by signing his first professional contract with the Cottagers yesterday. The three year deal formally makes him a professional footballer, and while Sessegnon’s future clearly lies away from Fulham in the long term, the deal means that the Cottagers will be able to command a very healthy fee for his services when he is eventually sold.
But why turn down a chance to play for the Premier League runners up, or for a club like Liverpool, who were also heavily linked to him this summer? Sessegnon, as reported in the Standard, says it came down to first team opportunities, and his continued development under Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic.
“Last season I got a lot of opportunities so I want to continue that. When you are young you just want to play as many games as you can. To play 30 games last year was good. It is always about improving and this season I want to get better.
“I am just happy for it to be done now. I can kick on and get ready for the season.”
He’s not wrong. As a young player, even one with the amazing ceiling that Sessegnon has, the best thing he can do is play regular football. He will most assuredly be able to do that in the Championship with Fulham, even if it’s not at the top level. Were he to move to Spurs this summer, he would certainly get a few games here in there, but would start the season firmly behind Danny Rose and Ben Davies at left back. Mauricio Pochettino is known for developing youth talent and Sessegnon was rumored to want to stay in London for his football, but there’s also the familiarity of staying at the club that brought him through their academy and took him this far.
As Spurs fans we see Sessegnon as having the potential to be a lock-down future starter for Spurs and international star, but he’s still just 17 years old. It’s difficult to say that he made the wrong decision to sign with Fulham at this time. Eventually he’ll move to a bigger club, and hopefully Spurs will maintain their interest in him. For now, he’ll continue to hone his skills in England’s second tier. And with Fulham making the playoffs last season and hopefully making a push for promotion in 2017-18, there’s also chance that he may be playing a key role for a Premier League club as soon as next season.