Once upon a time, England had a left-side problem. The national team was devoid of players with impact on the left wing. We had left sided defenders, but never a winger.
Then, football changed. The wing-back was introduced and Ashley Cole defined the role. On his retirement, the national side has struggled to find anyone to fill the hole. Now, in our little corner of South West London, a player is emerging who could be a household name.
Ryan Sessegnon is the English-born prodigy who might just make a late bid for a place on the plane to Russia. He’s recently been called up to the U21 squad and is highly tipped for a big summer move. As Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs all prepare to pounce, he nonchalantly swaggers down the left at Craven Cottage, seemingly untroubled by his new-found fame.
It will cost £40m to buy his services this summer; that is unless he does storm into Gareth Southgate’s plans. There’s much talk of him being too young at 17-years old. There’s talk of him not being experienced enough with just 55 starts for Fulham under his belt. There’s plenty of talk, but what about action?
14 goals from left wing is testament to his ability going forward — 41 outings as Fulham have surged into the Championship play-offs surely serves as experience enough. He might be a youngster, but he’s playing in a man’s league and doing rather well in it too.
Sessegnon can be found at 10/1 in some places to be called into the England squad, behind Trent Alexander-Arnold, a right back with less than 15 Premier League appearances this season.
He’s also below Ruben Loftus-Cheek, a midfielder who has amassed less than 40 league appearance. Chelse would probably be happy to swap £40m Sessegnon for Loftus-Cheek plus cash, yet playing in the Championship makes it unlikely the 17-year-old will get a call up ahead of the Stamford Bridge youngster.
Iceland, while outsiders at 200/1 to win the tournament, boast a handful of Championship players in their squad, including Cardiff City’s Aron Gunnarsson who was part of the team that knocked England out of the Euros. This proves it’s not unheard of for players from the second tier to achieve success on the world stage. So, what really are the odds on Championship regulars shining in Russia?
Could Sessegnon make the tournament? There’s no reason why not and he’s certainly worth a punt if you’ve got the inclination. Anyone looking for a safe outsider bet could pick up the latest free bets here and not have to dig into their pocket. After all, this is a player well regarded in the football world and the most likely second-tier player to end up on the plane to Russia.
Whether his inclusion would help the ailing England side is another mystery altogether. Friendly performances have been uninspiring, expectation is as low as ever for a major tournament and there’s a belief in some quarters that we could do worse than send a squad full of younger players to build on their experience. Ryan Sessegnon, for example, has done something very few of our full internationals have.
He lifted a trophy, the UEFA European Under 19 Cup, finished joint leading scorer in the tournament and even scored twice against Germany. With experience like that, why isn’t his ticket already booked?