Liverpool target Ryan Sessegnon is not expected to sign a professional deal with Fulham until June, despite celebrating his 17th birthday this month.
Sessegnon turned 17 on Thursday, with the left-back now eligible to sign professional terms with the Cottagers, after a breakthrough campaign in 2016/17.
The England U19 international made 30 appearances in all competitions for the first team, scoring seven goals and assisting a further four despite operating mostly in defence.
Fulham missed out on promotion to the Premier League after falling to defeat to Reading in the play-off semi-finals, with Sessegnon playing just 32 minutes over both legs.
According to the Mail, though he is now able to sign a professional contract, Sessegnon is not expected to do so until next month.
Quite why is unclear, as putting pen to paper on new terms would increase his value ahead of the summer transfer window.
This delay, along with Sessegnon’s omission from Slavisa Jokanovic’s starting lineup in the play-offs, could suggest an issue between the two parties.
While he had not been a guaranteed starter throughout 2016/17, Sessegnon had certainly carved out a regular role, and proved himself one of Fulham’s most effective players.
He has been one of the Championship’s standout stars in 2016/17, and was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year at the end of April.
Fulham are said to be confident of retaining their best talent, but failing to secure promotion could leave Sessegnon open to a move.
Speaking ahead of Fulham’s two-legged clash with Reading, Jokanovic admitted promotion would be the best chance of warding Liverpool off the teenager.
“If we get promoted, it’s the best way to keep him,” he said.
“I’ve talked many times about him and personally I believe he is in the right place, he doesn’t need to change in this moment.
“It will depend on different sides. For myself, I think we will fight to be working with him next season.
“Ryan Sessegnon is fully committed with us and is working hard.”
Though he is far from required to make the step up at this early stage of his career, and another season at Craven Cottage could aid his development, Sessegnon may be considering his options.
That he hasn’t signed a new deal on his 17th birthday, as is often the case—such as with Liverpool’s Glen McAuley and Liam Millar this term—could be a red flag.