Our “prospecting the prospects” series returns for 2018-19!
This is where we run the rule over lots of FPL prospects who will enter the game next season. This series analyses a selection of these newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using last season’s stats (wherever they played) as if they had been in FPL, then providing our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the coming period. [Wolves’ Jota and Cardiff’s Morrisonhere]
At the end of May, Fulham won the “£280m” play off against Aston Villa. This meant that they, along with Wolves and Cardiff, will join the Premier League – and therefore their players will join FPL – next season.
Arguably, the key man for Fulham this year has been Ryan Sessegnon, with the precocious 18-year-old – a distant relative of Sunderland legend Stéphane – providing the assist for Tom Cairney’s winner at Wembley.
Sessegnon made his debut in August 2016 aged just 16. He’s since wracked up 71 appearances for the Cottagers, scoring 20 goals in that time.
In terms of how he’ll be classified on FPL, it’s not quite cut and dried: he started out as a LWB, and appears to have played a lot of games as a defender, but his talents are clearly more offensive. Recent times have seen him played more and more in an attacking role:
Surely not. Played winger in 433 ever since they loaned Targett. Ryan Fredericks might be interesting if he stays and priced 4.5.
— Anders (@andersthfc) May 26, 2018
This appears borne out by Whoscored data:
With this all in mind, let’s assess the wunderkind as a Midfielder for FPL to see how much of a prospect he is for our teams next season.
Prospecting the prospects
Appearances: 46 appearances (45 over 60 mins, 1 time sub on/off) = 91 points
Goals: 15 goals (5×15) = 75 points
Assists: 6 assists (6×3) = 18 points
Clean sheets: 15 = 15 points
Bonus: To give an estimation of the bonus points he would have got, we’ve reviewed the games he would have delivered points in to come to a rough number. We’ve done this by researching all the games and allocating probable bonus depending on how well he did.
Goals: Sessegnon scored the winning goal 6 occasions last season, each time probably earning 3 bonus points. This included a hat trick in the 5-4 humdinger away at Sheffield United on 21st November, a winning goal and assist in the 4-2 victory away at fellow promoted side Cardiff on Boxing Day, and a brace v Barnsley on 27th January. The others three games were 1-0s and 2-1s where he made the difference. Accordingly, he’ll have made 18 bonus points for those matchups. Furthermore, the teenager scored a brace and assisted the 4th in the 4-1 victory over Ipswich on the 2nd January, another 3 bonus points. He also scored a brace on 20th January v Burton in the 6-0 demolition of Nigel Clough’s side; as they were the 4th and 5th goals, he may have been down to 2 bonus points but that’s being slightly harsh. He also scored the opener on 9th September – his first of the season – to make it 1-0 in the eventual 1-1 draw with Cardiff: maybe 1 bonus point extra here.
Assists: Sessegnon made 4 assists other than the one documented above. Of those, he may have been awarded 2 bonus points more – 1 for assisting the winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday on 7th April for sure; and maybe another elsewhere.
Total guesstimated bonus = 26 points
Disciplinary: 2 yellow cards = -2 points
(n.b. this data does not include Play-Offs)
Scores on the doors
223 points for last season on face value, among the top 4 in FPL this season in context. That’s very similar to what we found with Jota, and is therefore unsurprising given how influential he’s been for this season for the Cottagers. The hype seems real.
Let’s temper this a bit – his 223 was scored over 45(1) games, so to let’s create a points per game score, which is 4.95 (223/45). This translates into 188 points over 38 games, which would make him the 7th highest point scorer this season, 5 points above Jamie Vardy and 7 points below Riyad Mahrez.
Let’s start by moderating the hype slightly; yes he’s a great prospect as an 18 year old wonderkid. However the reality is, in FPL terms, that he probably won’t be doing a Mo Salah. If he does, then I don’t think anything other than blind hope in potential would be an indicator of this.
Sessegnon is a poacher who has good movement and a lot of tricks up his sleeve. His starting point is nominally on the left flank, but he’s not the kind of wide player who sticks to the wing (much like Jota). While he can create, having made 49 chances and produced 43 key passes, few of these actually came from crosses, with just 0.5 crosses per game. 91% of his shots came from inside the box (49/54), which shows how his game often takes him inside. He also has a really high shot accuracy at 62% – for context, that’s 1% more than the aforementioned Salah last season.
The Egyptian King is actually the proper “Rolls-Royce” comparator for Sessegnon, and perhaps shows what he could be in the future. Stats wise there are many similarities in terms of shots in the box ratio (91% for Sess as mentioned, 78% for Mo) as well as a really high conversion rate, with the youngster converting 28% of his chances v Salah converting 23%.
But will the young Englishman manage to replicate his Championship form in the Premier League? I think we should probably take a step back from the hysteria and look for more sober comparators to see what he might actually do, rather than what he could accomplish with potential fulfilled.
With this in mind, it might be worth looking at a trio of midfielders who currently “grace” the FPL game who may be a more realistic comparison point for what Sessegnon may achieve.
The first is Nathan Redmond. I know it sounds a bit like comparing wine with water, but Redmond’s stats for Norwich in the Premier League in 2015/16 are almost identical to Sessegnon’s last season. Redmond recorded 6 goals, 4 assists and 110 points that season, with a very similar amount of key passes (42 v 43 for Sess), chance creation (45 v 49) and total shots (both 54) that season. The difference between the two is the type of shots being made: only 28 of Redmond’s shots (52%) came from inside the box, and his accuracy was lower than Sessegnon’s (45% v 62%). Much like Sessegnon, Redmond was playing with a creative burden on him to deliver, and I think 110 points may constitute a decent conservative estimate for what we could expect from the teenager given Fulham’s stature.
The same is true of WBA’s Matt Phillips, who in 2016/17 recorded 115 points from 4 goals and 9 assists from the Baggies. He only played 27 games due to injury, but his per-game stats are very similar to Sessegnon creatively, at 1.22 chances created per game (1.11 for Sess) and 0.93 key passes (v 0.98). Phillips actually outshot the teenager on a per match basis (1.74 v 1.23) but was hampered by poor accuracy (29% v 62%). However, he’s another comparator worth raising as another like player and another who displays the kind of output we might expect from Sessegnon at a conservative estimate.
A perhaps more aspirational comparison point is Wilfried Zaha. It is to Sessegnon’s immense credit that, at face value, his stats closely track the Ivorian, who returned 9 goals, 7 assists and 137 points last season (despite missing many games and Palace failing to win in the Premier League until October). They match creatively, and also in terms of shooting: Zaha took 63 shots last season (54 for Sess), 50 of which were in the area (v 49) and recorded a fairly high shot accuracy (57% v 62%). It’s just when we take into account the far fewer games played for Wilf that he comes into his own, primarily because he was playing up front for much of the season: Zaha took 2.17 shots per game, or 1.72 shots in the area per game v Sess’ stats of 1.23 and 1.1 respectively.
Looking at Zaha 2016/17, though, when he scored 7 goals and supplied 11 assists for a bigger harvest of 149 points, there is much more overlap between the two in terms of stats: it’s 1.4 shots per game and 1.17 shots in the area per match for Zaha, which is much closer to Sess’ 1.23 and 1.1. There’s also similarities in terms of creativity, with Zaha supplying 1.09 chances and and 0.83 key passes per game (v. 1.11 and 0.98 for Sess).
Sessegnon could, of course flounder under the pressure of expectations, or indeed exceed them greatly (it’s hard to make metrics from potential) but all we can do in the inexact art of predicting player potential is use the stats in front of us.
If he can keep up his development, supplying goals and creating the chances, I think a range of between the 110 to 140 points is decent, and would perhaps be what we’re expecting from him in terms of the statistics we can see and the comparators we’ve looked at. As with Jota, this works out as good value given the probable 6.0 pricetag we’ll see, in line with valuations of those identified as “key men” by OFPL at other promoted clubs (Knockaert, Ince, Ritchie) last season.
JULY EDIT: 6.5! It’ll be a crowded price bracket and there’s a leap of faith needed to invest in the Sess. Can we? I’m willing to adopt a watching brief early doors.
Of course, much depends on who Fulham bring in and what else happens in the off season.
In conclusion, it could well be Sessegnon is the man who turns up trees in FPL this season. If he’s a defender and 5.0, it’s goes without saying almost that he’ll be fantastic punt early season. But even as a 6.0 midfielder I suspect Sessegnon will be in our thinking come Gameweek 1, with many managers hoping to back the bandwagon from the outset rather than jumping on after proof points have been established.
Another one that’s 100% on our watchlist as a value option in the 3rd/4th midfield slot.
Overall rating: 3.5 / 5 – A good prospect for FPL*
*derived from a completely subjective scale from 1-5, where 1 is bad and 5 is excellent
Disclaimer: we thoroughly accept this system of evaluating players isn’t flawless. Predicting how well a player will do is an inexact science, and there are many ways to do it. However, we feel that it’s a nice approach to getting a feel for how a player might do in FPL.