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Two Napoli youths play 90 minutes in Italy U-19 loss

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The Italy under-19 team played their Croatian counterparts in a friendly this week, and despite the loss a pair of Napoli youths acquitted themselves well.

Gabriele Maltinti

In the World Cup this summer, Napoli had but one Italy representative in Lorenzo Insigne. Indeed, Insigne and Christian Maggio were the only Italians to get regular playing time for Napoli last season, in no small part because Napoli's academy has, like much of the rest of Italy, struggled to produce talent of sufficient quality to impact a side competing to win Serie A.

In the last couple of years, though, there's been signs that Napoli's academy might be coming around. In addition to Roberto Insigne, who played a key role in getting Perugia promoted to Serie B, the Primavera squad has featured several players who appear to have the quality to eventually challenge for places in Napoli's squad.

Two of those, 17 year old center back Sebastiano Luperto and 18 year old fullback Alberto Anastasio, featured for the Italian U-19 squad against the Croatian U-19's this week and played all 90 minutes in a 2-1 loss. Despite being part of a defense that shipped two goals, both players played quite well by all accounts and have likely earned more playing time at the level.

Luperto also featured in several of Napoli's pre-season friendlies, though his results were a little more mixed there. He was a second-half sub against PAOK, but didn't play especially well against players who were mostly a decade his senior. He did, however, play fairly well in a more limited spell at the end of the Barcelona match, including impressively breaking up a dangerous late run towards goal from Gerard Deulofeu, widely considered one of the better winger prospects around Europe.

Hopefully these two and others from Napoli's youth squad will be featuring for the senior side in a few years. Another bright light to watch for is attacker Gennaro Tutino, who will spend the season with Vicenza in Lega Pro getting senior squad minutes for his development. The soon-to-be 18 year old is a delightfully dynamic little attacker in a similar mold to Lorenzo Insigne, something that Napoli fans will certainly enjoy if he continues to develop well.