Ryan Sessegnon has admitted that it has been a rollercoaster ride for him since he joined Tottenham in 2019 and he is hoping to finally showcase his best football under Antonio Conte.
Spurs paid £25m to snap up Sessegnon from Fulham in 2019 (Goal) but the youngster’s progress has been derailed by a series of injuries since his move.
The 21-year-old has also worked with four different managers (not including Ryan Mason) over the past two and a half years in North London, which has certainly not helped his development.
When asked about his time at Tottenham, the youngster told ESPN: “Rollercoaster… I don’t even know where to begin.”
Sessegnon admitted that Mauricio Pochettino was a crucial factor in him deciding to come to Spurs two and half years ago and it came as a blow to him when the Argentine was sacked just months after his arrival.
He said: “When I was a bit younger, I was aware that Spurs wanted me to sign previous to when I did, but when I eventually did, he (Pochettino) was the main reason why.
“Obviously I knew his track record with young players at the club. I looked at that and thought it was a good opportunity for me to come and play a lot of games at a young age under him.
“When he went, it was difficult because he was the main reason why I signed and when I was coming back to full fitness, a new manager had come in.
“In terms of me getting to know him as a person, the way he wants to play, I couldn’t take anything [from him] because literally he was gone when I was ready to come back in.
“In terms of myself, I think I learned a lot about myself in that period mentally. It shaped it into the person I’ve become.”
Sessegnon did not get much of a look in under Jose Mourinho, with the Portuguese coach publicly stating that the England Under-21 international needed to improve defensively (Football.London).
When asked about Mourinho’s critique, the former Fulham man said: “In a way, I understood what he was saying because the defensive side at that time, I probably wasn’t as aggressive off the ball as he wanted me to be.
“Looking back now, I kind of agree with what he was saying because it wasn’t until I went to Germany, I think my defensive side improved in terms of physicality, being aggressive off the ball.
“I needed that trip to Germany to really understand what he was saying. So, when he’s saying the stuff about learning to defend better, at that time he was right.”
Sessegnon was sent off in Antonio Conte’s first game in charge of Tottenham against NS Mura back in November and the youngster admitted that the Italian had some choice words for him the following day.
He said: “I kind of thought to myself I’d messed my chance up because I thought ‘OK, it’s my first start I want to impress’ but I wasn’t really in the game.
“He [Conte] didn’t say anything to me directly afterwards. I think it was the next day, we watched the game back and he was saying ‘you didn’t even touch the ball [after the first yellow card] and in that time you got a red card.’ It was quite bad.”
Sessegnon had displaced Sergio Reguilon a Conte’s first choice at left wing-back prior to his hamstring injury, and he insisted that the position is the most natural fit for him.
He added: “I think I’m a mixture of left-wing and left-back so it is perfect for me. He [Conte] wants to win, he wants us to play with a bit more freedom, take responsibility and bring the game to the opposition.
“I think the [wing-back] positions are probably the most important in the team, in terms of creating overloads attacking-wise and defensively we are stronger as a back five.
“But then obviously supporting attacks to get crosses in and to score goals. It is a very demanding job, you use a lot of energy but it’s about managing that, being smart and effective at the right time.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Sessegnon’s hamstring injury came at the wrong time as he had put in some accomplished performances at left wing-back against the likes of City. I hope the youngster gets a run of matches until the end of the season so that he can build his confidence and demonstrate his quality in the wing-back role
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