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How does Ryan Sessegnon compare to Gareth Bale at the same stage of his career?

Sessegnon is constantly likened to Bale, so how do the two match up if you compare their early steps in football?

No one likes comparing a youngster to a legend that has gone before.

Robinho was the next Pele. Bojan Krkic was the next Lionel Messi. But it’s all empty words because at the end of the day every footballer is physically and emotionally different.

Now forget everything you’ve just read because we’re going to compare Ryan Sessegnon and Gareth Bale.

Wales’ attempts at cheerleading failed spectacularly

Reuters
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Wales’ attempts at cheerleading failed spectacularly

As a disclaimer, we’re not saying Sessegnon will, or won’t, be as good as Bale in the future.

But as two fleet-footed left sided players who have taken the Championship by storm before their 18th birthday, it’s only natural comparisons will arise.

So how do the two shape up if you look at Bale’s early steps to stardom?

Sir Alex Ferguson would never yet a young player wear colourful boots

PA:Empics Sport
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Sir Alex Ferguson would never yet a young player wear colourful boots

Debut season

Bale’s first appearance came in Southampton’s game against Millwall on 17 April 2006 at the age of 16 years and 275 days.

Sessegnon made Bale look like an elderly statesman when he played for Fulham against Leyton Orient 81 days after his 16th birthday.

But while Bale only racked up two appearances in his first season at Southampton, Sessegnon was an established first-team member at Craven Cottage, playing 30 times.

The fact 25 of those appearances came in a notoriously physical league is even more impressive given Sessegnon’s slight stature.

Hit the weights son

Reuters
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Hit the weights son

First goal

Bale’s first goal a breathtaking showcase of poise, technique and power.

With Southampton trailing 1-0 to Derby County the Welshman stepped up to curl a free-kick past Lee Camp in a style that has come to be his trademark.

Part Cristiano Ronaldo, part David Beckham. The only disappointment was that Southampton didn’t go on to win the game.

Sessegnon’s wasn’t quite as stylish although his goal, against Cardiff City, also came in a 2-2 draw.

What it did show was intelligence, and by that we mean footballing IQ, far exceeding his years.

Sone Aluko made his way to the byline and, while most young wingers could have been forgiven for switching off, Sessegnon darted in front of his marker towards the front post and scuffed home.

What were you doing at 17?

PA:Press Association
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What were you doing at 17?

International exploits

Bale made his Wales debut before his 17th birthday, making him the youngest Welsh international in history- a record that has since been broken by Liverpool’s Harry Wilson.

International caps haven’t been quite as quick in coming for Sessegnon, who has so far represented England at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-19 level.

However his showing in the European Under-19 Championships gave plenty of reason for England fans to get excited.

Sessegnon finished as the tournament’s top scorer, helping England beat Germany in the final. Whisper it quietly, but England’s left sided curse could finally be over.

The successor to Stewart Downing

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The successor to Stewart Downing

Records

Bale missed out on being Southampton’s youngest player thanks to a certain Theo Walcott but, as we said above, he was Wales’ youngest player before Wilson came along.

Sessegnon’s goal against Cardiff was the first scored in the English leagues by a player born in 2000 and saw him take the crown as the Championship’s youngest goalscorer.

But records are made to be broken. Either that or the lizards will take over football before anyone has had a chance to break them.

How long can Fulham keep hold of their man?

Getty Images - Getty
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How long can Fulham keep hold of their man?