It has been a tough adjustment period for Ryan Sessegnon since his move to Tottenham. He burst onto the scene in the Championship for Fulham as a teenager. At that stage, he was seen as a player with a high ceiling. However, injuries and a lack of opportunity have stunted his development in recent years. There have been good moments at Spurs prior to this season, such as his goal in the Champions League against RB Leipzig. However, these were few and far between.
Last season, he managed to get some regular minutes in Germany for Hoffenheim and these helped to rebuild his confidence. At the age of 21, he is still young and the recent appointment of Antonio Conte could be looked back on as a crucial moment in his development. The 3-4-2-1 formation used by Tottenham allows Sessegnon to play as an attacking wing-back.
Due to the role of Son Heung-min, there is always space for the left wing-back to get forward into advanced areas on the left flank. The South Korean likes to come inside and offer a goal threat in central areas. This means that the left wing-back needs to provide the overlapping option. In recent weeks, Sessegnon has looked excellent in the role. Sergio Reguilon is still regarded as the first choice, but his injury has given an opportunity for his English team mate to enhance his own reputation.
He is now approaching 1000 minutes in the Premier League season. Although it is a small sample size, his creative numbers are impressive. Sessegnon is averaging 0.27 expected assists (xA) per ninety minutes. This is very good and shows the threat that he carries down the left wing. He has two assists to his name so far and he will be hoping to add to that on Sunday.
Further to his ability to create high quality chances, he is averaging 3.42 touches in the opposition penalty area, which places him in the 96th percentile among full-backs. His movement is excellent and he is able to find pockets of space to receive the ball. Due to the number of games he has played, his intelligence and reading of the game are beyond his years.
There will be concerns about his defensive abilities, but he is playing under the right coach to fix those issues. His performance against Liverpool a few weeks ago suggested that he was able to play well defensively against an elite team. During the match, he was up against Mohamed Salah and competed well with the current Premier League top scorer. He made five tackles during the game, more than any other player.
Tottenham fans would have expected Sergio Reguilon to be the long term future on the left, either as a full-back or wing-back. It is likely that he will remain first choice, but it is difficult not to be impressed by the form of Sessegnon. Conte will be happy that he has two good options and Sessegnon is younger and more malleable as a player. It could be that he emerges as the first choice by the end of the year.
The focus has been on the front two at Tottenham, due to the impact they have on matches. The improvement of others in the squad won’t have been missed by supporters though and Sessegnon is one of the best examples. His improvement and performances underline the value of having a world class coach.