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One To Watch: Iling-Junior reaps rewards as Old Lady turn to youth
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Dan Fitch
Samuel Iling-Junior is now featuring regularly for Juventus
Samuel Iling-Junior is now featuring regularly for Juventus

One of England’s brightest young talents is making an impact in Italy with Juventus. 

Samuel Iling-Junior left Chelsea at the age of 16 to take up the challenge of joining the Serie A giants. 

The young Londoner has broken into Juve’s first-team squad this season during a troubled period for the club. 

Ahead of Juventus’ match against Spezia on Sunday, we turn the spotlight on Iling-Junior. 

Italian job

For some time now the brightest young English talents have been moving to Germany due to the willingness of Bundesliga clubs to put their faith in youth. 

Serie A does not have much of a reputation for the development of rising stars, yet Iling-Junior made the decision to move to Italy three years ago. 

His talent was noted by Juventus scout Matteo Tognozzi, who informed then chief football officer Fabio Paratici, now of Tottenham. 

It says much for the confidence of Iling-Junior that he was willing to move to a club who could point to few examples of having successfully nurtured young players over recent years.

Yet the winger may have had impeccable timing. On a number of levels, there are now opportunities at Juventus that did not previously exist. 

Rule change

Samuel Iling-Junior has been deployed as a traditional left winger or wing-back
Samuel Iling-Junior has been deployed as a traditional left winger or wing-back

When Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the lack of young players breaking through into Serie A came under consideration. 

As a result, a rule change saw clubs allowed to register a B team in the Italian third tier. Iling-Junior made his first appearance in Serie C last season after Juventus became the first side to take advantage of this ruling.

Over the summer he was part of the England squad that won the European Under-19 Championship. His progress followed into this season with four goals in seven appearances for the Juve's Next Gen side. 

Previously, young players at Juventus were either playing at youth level or loaned out. Now they have the chance to face seasoned pros in Serie C, while still training at the club and being available for the first-team. 

Throw in the various troubles on and off the field that the Old Lady have experienced this season and conditions were ripe for young players to break through. Presented with the opportunity, Iling-Junior has grasped it. 

Champions League debut

Iling-Junior is a type of player that you do not see very often these days. A left-footed winger who plays on the left, rather than being tasked with cutting in from the opposite flank. 

Unsurprisingly, he has also regularly played as a wing-back. It was from this position that he immediately caught the eye on his Champions League debut. 

Introduced in the 70th minute of Juve’s away trip to Benfica, when the team were 4-1 down. Iling-Junior created two goals within nine minutes of being brought on. 

First, he produced some trickery to create space and deliver a perfect cross that Arkadiusz Milik converted. Then, another of his deliveries brought chaos to the Benfica box and Weston McKennie was able to score. 

In total, the 19-year-old has made eight first-team appearances, including six in Serie A. Fellow Next Gen graduates Fabio Miretti, Nicolo Fagioli and Matias Soule have also broken through into Max Allegri’s squad. 

Pioneering player

Max Allegri has blooded several young players at Juventus this season
Max Allegri has blooded several young players at Juventus this season

With Iling-Junior’s brave decision paying off, we may see more young English players moving to Italy. 

There is already a growing number of more mature players from England, such as Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori, who have been successful in Serie A, while Ademola Lookman is second in the goalscoring charts. 

Iling-Junior has spoken about his pioneering career path, saying: "I’m 100% enjoying it. Not many people can say they’ve come from London as a 16-year-old boy and made it to the Juventus first team. 

"I have to take a step back every now and then and say, ‘I’ve done something good’. But I can’t rest on my laurels.  

"I’ve just got to keep going. Why can’t I do more? There’s so much more to do."


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