Ryan Sessegnon’s opportunities have been slightly limited in the first couple months of his initial season with Tottenham, but that likely won’t be the case for long.
Sessegnon has only made two appearances for the club since joining from Fulham over the summer. Both of those appearances have been brief cameos off the bench, but injuries have also played a role in keeping Sessegnon off the pitch.
Both of those appearances also came under Mauricio Pochettino. Still, it’s clear that Jose Mourinho is fond of Sessegnon as well.
Spurs’ new Portuguese manager was asked by the press on Friday if he views the 19-year-old more as a winger than a left back. Football London has every word Mourinho said during his press conference.
In this moment, yes. I think Ryan is absolutely fantastic, I have known him since a kid in Fulham. When he comes to the first team in the Premier League it is different to the Championship. I think in this moment he is a winger on the left, can also play on the right, can learn progressively and even developing physically, which he is doing. Even last time I saw him and the first time I met him, when I came here he is already different physically.
Sessegnon’s athleticism and ability going forward give him a kind of versatility that can be useful in a squad. With Fulham he played primarily in attack, especially during his breakthrough 2017/18 season in the Championship, during which he scored 16 goals and contributed 8 assists.
He’s only played 17 total minutes for his new club, but he’s already registered an assist in the Champions League. That assist came while he was playing left wing.
Mourinho talking about him “developing physically” is telling about what Sessegnon needs to work on if his future will eventually be at left back. Like many players who break into this level of football at such a young age, he needs to bulk up a bit to deal with the physicality that is involved with defending in the Premier League.
His new manager seems confident he can continue to grow that way. Mourinho even compared Sessegnon to another left back who had great success in England.
I think Ryan can play as a left-back. probably the left-back in the last decade was Ashley Cole, in spite of him being from two enemy clubs, but he was fantastic. But Ryan has lots of similarities with Ashley, and he can learn how to defend. In the future I think he can be (a left-back) but in this moment he is not ready to play as a left-back.
This is likely something that Pochettino felt the same way about. Sessegnon’s potential is undeniable, but he isn’t defensively sound enough to play at the back yet.
It’s still unclear what Mourinho’s system at Spurs will be exactly. He could play with wing backs, or he may opt to play with a more traditional back four. In either of those systems, the fullbacks need to be able to balance going forward with getting back to adhere to their defensive responsibilities. That can be a tough thing to master.
Spurs will try to build on the two wins in Mourinho’s first two games when they welcome Bournemouth to North London on Saturday.