Happy Saturday folks, hope you’re all good? I’m gonna do a bit on Benjamin Sesko in a bit, which is entirely the fault of my mate Steve who I go to football with, because he’s been WhatsApping this morning about being invested, having even thought up a song for the potential signing. But before I do that, I have to say a quick bit on England and the press.

Yesterday as I was having a bite to eat in the kitchen I watched about 15 minutes of the first half against Iceland. I then watched about 25 minutes at the end of the game as I was packing away the shopping and aside from the fact that Gareth Southgate couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag, I was surprised at how disjointed England looked. In the second stint of my watching Saka was on the pitch and I thought he was ok. He and Trent seemed to get most of the ball and there seemed to be a little threat – but not a lot – against a low-block Iceland. Hey, it happens, we’ve seen it at The Arsenal where teams sit in and defend a point or an early goal scored. But then I wake up this morning and most of the national newspapers have left with talk of how poor England had played, focusing all on pictures of Saka either on the floor or having thrown a paper aeroplane playfully somewhere.

I thought to myself “hmm, I thought he was only on for about 20 minutes, interesting that the press has selected him to be the poster boy of defeat today. There’s something not right about that”. Then I fired up my Twitter and saw other people talking about it, about how Raheem Sterling seemed to get the same treatment in the past by the right wing press, etc. And it made me realise just how backwards and archaic the press is in it’s symbolism. Had England have won I’m sure there would have been a picture of ‘captain Harry Kane’, or Phil Foden celebrating, unless of course it was Saka that got the goal in which case there’s a few of those press outlets that would have begrudgingly have decided that they have to feature him. But I do feel like the press is a little outdated in the way it tackles stories and as a collective we should probably all be doing more to call them out. You win as a team, you lose as a team, everyone should be treated equally, whether that’s plaudits or metaphorical rotten tomatoes thrown at them. Don’t make a scapegoat; they are all in it together for better or worse.

Anyway, let’s move on from that, because I wanted to touch on Sesko. I’m not a massive Bundesliga watcher, so I can’t pretend to know all when it comes to this lad, but I can see why there’s a bit of a buzz about him, because his highlights real with goals looks good. 16 goals in 39 games (14 from the bench) for Leipzig at the tender age of 21 (just turned that eight days ago) is not to be sniffed at; he’s also bagged a couple in the Champions League too and he finished off the season in sizzling form. He did a bit of a Willock-on-loan-at-Newcastle for those final games and started in all seven, so clearly something clicked and that’s what has made many teams around Europe sit up and take notice.

But if you look at his season as a whole, he’s clearly been gradually eased in at RB Leipzig. In their first five Bundesliga games of the season just gone he started just one and played a total of just 196 minutes (out of a possible 450). That’s understandable; he came from RB Salzburg where he’d been the league’s top scorer, he was a very young lad at 20 year’s old and Leipzig are clearly not going to just chuck a kid like that in without bedding him in. During that time (up until the end of September) he did play in the Champions League coming on for 23 minutes and scored, as well as in the DFB Pokal trophy too, scoring two goals and playing most of the match against a lower league German team. So the signs were clearly there early on that this kid has talent, but Leipzig used him more regularly in the second half of the season than the first.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, it’s because I feel like he’s probably going to end up signing a new deal at Leipzig, which I would kind of understand if he did. At the moment he has a £55million release clause and given his end to the season Leipzig will clearly feel like they have a guy who could go supernova, so they want to be able to make big cash if that happens and if clubs are looking at this kid and thinking about getting him on the (sort of) cheap now then you can be sure that unless he has some sort of big injury next season or his form tanks, they’ll get even bigger money if they can keep him.

So from Leipzig’s position it’s clear that their play is to say “look, you’ve still only had one season, you’ve been great, let’s give you more cash for your performances, let’s bump up that release clause, then we’ll let you go next summer if you smash it for us”. And if I’m Sesko there’s a lot to like in that. He’ll start 2024/25 as ‘the guy’ at RB Leipzig; there’ll be no more ‘bedding in’ period, he’ll basically be one of the first names on the team sheet if he stays fit and in form, then it’s a clear pathway to potentially go on to great things. If he bangs for Leipzig then there will 100% clubs in for him next summer, for sure, so he doesn’t need to worry about the interest going away. But he does need to make sure he gets game time. If he goes to an Arsenal, United or Chelsea then he’s probably going to have to do what he did this season. Contend with rotation, play in and out of games, then hopefully break in later in the season. But it’s harder – no disrespect intended here – to break in at The Arsenal in the Premier League than it is at RB Leipzig. Arsenal will be expecting to compete for the league again this next season; RB Leipzig finished 25 points (that’s eight wins and a draw difference) off Leverkusen this season and I suspect everyone will be thinking that Xabi Alonso and his team will once again go head-to-head with Bayern Munich next season.

Another way to look at it is that if Sesko is as good as so many people say and if he’s confident enough in his own ability, then he’ll be happy to get to one of the top four or five clubs in the world as soon as possible. Haaland joined Dortmund in the summer of 2020 at 19, then left Dortmund at 22 year’s old to go to City. Sesko signed for RB Leipzig at 20 and he’s now 21. Haaland left because City activated his £51million release clause, Sesko has a £55million release clause. But Haaland had played two-and-a-half seasons at Dortmund, Sesko has had just one season and in reality, he’s only been a regular for half a season. If he decides he wants that move now, it’s a gamble for the buying club as much as the player himself for game time.

So I guess all I’m saying here is that I have a sneaky suspicion that the path might mean one more year in Germany (like Xabi Alonso is doing at Leverkusen I suspect, in the managerial equivalent), an inflated buy out clause to something close to double what his clause is now, then it’ll be on the big clubs to come a-knockin’ with their cash next summer if they want his signature.

Catch you all tomorrow.