Napoli hoping under radar youngster is the tonic, for a new chapter.


Clarkson has all the tools to become a big player for club and country

With the season due to come to a close on Thursday, we caught up with Napoli boss Glen Mullan about his thoughts on Napoli’s long term planning. “Its been a real slow burner in terms of rebuilding the squad. We’ve looked to implement a youth policy, as the squad was massively decimated when I arrived. To think we have 50 players now, but more than 50 have probably left too. We have done a mixture of trading, but also picking up potential improvers, none more so than Leighton Clarkson who was one of my first signings who we picked up from Barrow last year for £180k. He is a player I really like. Born just a few miles from where I live he has been at Liverpool since he was 6 years old, and has already had some first team action there. He is currently heavily linked with a loan move to Blackburn (The club I support) who showed last season what they can do with young players with the successful loan spells of Harvey Elliott and Harwood-Bellis. He plays in that Steven Gerrard type of role, and can create and score goals, which he has throughout his youth and under 23 football. He is a big asset for us, and will continue to improve. We also have Brazilian trio, Tobias, Luquina and Helinho, all three we are hopeful can continue to progress. We don’t have a “Pin the tail on the donkey” approach here, where we sign anyone with a pulse. We do a bit of homework and weigh up if that player can be an asset first and foremost? We are a trading club, and sadly we will continue to have to part with assets, to try and get more now and ready players. Secondly we weigh up how long we may wait before that player evolves. Although we can have 50 players, we can’t have 30 players waiting around for 7 or 8 seasons with no chance of breaking into the team. We have 36 players now 25 or under, its a great springboard and position to be in. Many have improvement in them whilst its also fair to say at least 30 of them will play 10 games plus in the league next season. We do rotate a bit, and give players game time. We also have opportunities for the other 20 in cup competitions which are very much low on our priority list. As Nathaniel Phillips has shown this season, you can improve quite quickly in ratings, and find yourself slap bang in the thick of the action and he has now started our last 10 games, which has coincided with our best spell of the season. You are always going to look at your experienced players for instant success, we have a few of those who are keeping is afloat, but I think our policy of mixing the younger players and experience at the right time, is why we have been hard to beat. Why we have the 4th best defence in Division 3, and why the future is far more brighter than the team I inherited 3 seasons ago when already relegated to division 2. If you study our squad, its not littered with any stars, and 99% of these players would not come up on other Managers transfer targets. We sold Santamaria yesterday, who we brought in as part of a bigger swap deal. However he had some improvement in him, he has been upgraded since we signed him to 88, is a good age at 26, so he became asset. The deal has seen us get an 87 defender and 89 attacking midfielder. Given our highest rated defender was 87 in O’connell, whilst Costa will walk into our best 11, its good business for us, especially with the numbers we have in the under 25 category. Our squad rating is slowly improving, as we’ve gone from a first team 81/82 to a first team of 85 average over the course of this season, and that’s been achieved by not sacrificing our youth strategy.

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