Manchester United keen to sign Fulham wonderkid Ryan Sessegnon
Manchester United are keen to sign Ryan Sessegnon, the Fulham 17-year-old who is yet to sign a professional deal at his current club having made a precocious breakthrough into the first team last season.
The teenager turned 17 on May 18, the earliest point at which he could agree a professional deal, and with a pre-agreed contract to begin at the start of next month, albeit one which was negotiated before he became an established first-team player. He would be available for around £2 million in training compensation were he to leave the club this summer without signing a professional deal.
Sessegnon, whose twin brother Steven is another promising Fulham homegrown product, is understood to be open-minded about staying at Fulham despite the interest from United and other Premier League clubs.
The likelihood is that the player will want improved terms when it comes to his first professional deal, and assurances that should Fulham not gain promotion to the Premier League next season they would agree to sell him at the right price.
However, the interest from United has been strong and manager Jose Mourinho, whose son Jose junior was previously at the Fulham academy, is understood to rate Ryan. There is also interest from Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur with no clear signal yet that any interested parties have withdrawn from the process.
Those clubs are waiting to see whether Fulham secure Sessegnon to a three-year contract this summer, the longest deal a player can sign under the age of 18.
Sessegnon has emerged as one of the most sought-after teenagers in the game, moving ahead of his peers at the academies of more famous clubs with 30 first-team appearances in the Championship and domestic cups last season. He is the latest in a line of fine academy players scouted and developed by the club including goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli, England Under-21 player Cauley Woodrow, on loan at Burton Albion, and Patrick Roberts, sold to Manchester City in 2015 and on loan at Celtic.
Sessegnon’s future will be a question for the Fulham vice-chairman Tony Khan, son of the American billionaire owner Shad, who took over his current role as the director of football operations in February. In the past the club have been resistant to selling and loaning back players and it will be a question of whether Fulham feel that they are better suited with a fee for their talented 17-year-old and reinvesting that in the squad.
The club were relegated in 2014 and have been unable to gain promotion through three years of parachute payments with that revenue now exhausted. Tom Cairney, the Scotland international midfielder, is also sought-after with promoted Newcastle United interested but no deal yet in place and a high valuation placed on the player by Fulham.