Sessegnon a wanted man at Sunderland
The Benin midfielder has been attracting attention this summer after last season's brilliant performances for the Black Cats and O'Neill is well aware that he could be tempted by a big money offer.
But the Sunderland boss is keen to retain Sessegnon as he produces so much for the Wearside club.
"We would very much like to keep Stephane - any manager would want to keep him," O'Neill said in The Journal.
"He gives us that extra creativity and he is very important to us so I would genuinely like to keep him.
"I would love to give a 'hands-off' message but I wish it was as easy as that.
"If I was to say 'You cannot touch him' then I might have to come back here two days later and say 'sorry'.
"That would be all bravado speak and then he's gone, so I couldn't give that sort of message.
"However, I definitely want to keep him at this football club.
"I echo the sentiments of all of us, including the supporters on that front."