Is Ryan Sessegnon the best replacement for a distraught Son Heung-min?
Background photo: Paddy Briggs, CC-BY-SA 3.0
In 2018/19, Tottenham Hotspur went the full campaign without signing a new player, drawing harsh criticism from all quarters. Spurs headed into the 2019/20 transfer market willing and ready to spend. They lavished over a £100 million on four new recruits, including the £30 million gifted Fulham for Ryan Sessegnon.
Sessegnon arrived in North London injured and was forced to play the waiting game after his recovery. The hamstring injury suffered on international duty is in the past. The 19-year-old's been training with the first team for a month now. His much-awaited debut came in Spurs’ heated encounter at Goodison Park albeit in the most ignoble of cameos. The teenager was introduced deep into stoppage time to kill off time and help the Lilywhites cling to a draw after going down to ten men following Son Heung-min's rash, injurious challenge on Andre Gomes.
Where does Sessegnon fit?
There’s always been this debate regarding Sessegnon’s best position. As a 17-year-old, the player turned heads in 2017/18, topping off a fine campaign by winning the Championship Player of the Season award. The honour recognised his goal and assist return, with 15 and six respectively to help Fulham reach the playoffs and win promotion to the Premier League.
Such high numbers are inconsistent with full-backs, irrespective of the league. You won’t even find Liverpool’s fiery duo, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, poaching that many in a season. The question is, should Sessegnon be considered a full-back? You’ll get a yes and no answer if you direct that question to football enthusiasts.
Sessegnon began his career at left-back but his game has evolved quickly since. Full-backs are expected to hurtle up and down the flanks and whip in dangerous crosses. The occasional goal is whipped creme, though. On the other hand, when a fullback consistently scores, he’s deemed to be more of an attacker than a defender. Many are calling for Sessegnon to follow Gareth Bale's path not only by joining Spurs but claiming a more advanced role.
Spurs need a left-winger
Viewer discretion was needed for anyone seeing the later stages of the game between Everton and Tottenham. A tackle on Andre Gomes by Son Heung-min resulted in a horrific dislocation and fracture of the Portuguese's right ankle. Martin Atkinson initially cautioned the South Korean before upgrading to a red card after observing the gravity of the injury. Regardless of his dismissal, Son didn’t appear emotionally stable after the incident. The player will benefit from the time away to collect his thoughts and accept some counselling. We're not talking about a player cut in Roy Keane's mould. The Asian is a gentleman who can only be shocked at what he's done.
Banned for three matches, the left-winger can’t feature in the league until the clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford in December. That opens the door for Sessegnon. Mauricio Pochettino once mentioned the England youngster possesses the quality to feature in Spurs’ attack. There’s no better time to test that belief.
Lucas Moura will also expect to be called upon by the Argentine manager but the Brazilian's lethargic start, two goals in 584 minutes is miles below the standard he set for himself last season.
Pochettino needs all the help he can get at the moment. Stuck in 11th, they wasted an opportunity at Goodison Park to leapfrog Manchester United into the table's top half. Finishing anywhere near the top six requires a spark that Lucas doesn't appear ready to strike. It's foolhardy to assume Ryan Sessegnon will singlehandedly resolve Spurs' woes. Still, his dynamism and exuberant pace may provide the impetus for change.