Tottenham youngster Ryan Sessegnon is capable of following in the footsteps of Ashley Cole, says Jose Mourinho, with the new Spurs boss tipping the promising left-back for a big future.
For now, a 19-year-old summer signing finds himself on the fringes of the fold in north London.
Mauricio Pochettino moved to snap the youngster up from Fulham, but competitive game time has been hard to come by.
That may change with Mourinho now at the helm, and with Ben Davies nursing a knock, but Sessegnon will not be rushed into fulfilling his undoubted potential.
His current boss sees him as more of a winger for now, but believes the England Under-21 international can one day emulate a former Arsenal and Chelsea star by becoming a buccaneering full-back.
Mourinho told reporters when asked about Sessegnon, who has taken in just two appearances this season: “I think Ryan is absolutely fantastic, I have known him since a kid in Fulham. When he comes to the first team in the Premier League, it is different to the Championship.
“I think in this moment he is a winger on the left, can also play on the right, can learn progressively and even developing physically, which he is doing. Even last time I saw him and the first time I met him when I came here he is already different physically.
“I think Ryan can play as a left-back. Probably the best left-back in the last decade was Ashley Cole, in spite of him being from two enemy clubs, but he was fantastic. But Ryan has lots of similarities with Ashley [who Mourinho managed at Chelsea], and he can learn how to defend. In the future, I think he can be [a left-back] but in this moment he is not ready to play as a left-back.”
While ruling Sessegnon out of contention for a left-back berth in the present, Mourinho does face a selection poser in that position after seeing Wales international Davies pick up an injury.
The Portuguese added: "That’s a blow.
"Especially for a boy that was feeling my trust to be chosen to start my first game is always something that the players obviously enjoy. He was playing well, he adapted to our way of playing, would be good to have him as an option but it’s not possible so sad news for us, sad news for him.
"But he will be back and we will survive without him. I trust the other people that can play in the same position, like Danny did in the last match. And we still have other players that can do it. On top of that, I couldn't be at it but I watched on video our youth team playing in the Champions League, and we also have [Dennis Cirkin]. OK, he’s 17 but he’s a kid with a lot of quality, and I look forward to bringing him to train with us, and to help his development.
"We have options - Danny Rose is the natural left-back, Jan Vertonghen can do it, he did it already for the club and for the national team. In extra emergency, I think even Aurier could give us a hand playing there, and we have options at right-back. So the squad [can deal] with one or two injuries, so we are fine."