Magri exit the Pompey norm not exception

Sam Magri is on the verge of joining Liverpool
Sam Magri is on the verge of joining Liverpool
Jamal Lowe. Picture: Joe Pepler

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One of Pompey’s brightest starlets is nearing a departure.

The agony for Blues fans, though, is that Sam Magri represents the norm and not the exception.

The past few years have seen a clutch of highly-promising youngsters plucked from the Fratton Park production line.

Players destined for regular first-team football yet, ultimately, such a fate will now happen elsewhere.

Lenny Sowah, Nadir Ciftci, Florent Cuvelier and Ryan Williams – four Academy youngsters snatched from Pompey’s grasp.

Just like Liverpool target Magri, circumstances dictated they must all exit – against the club’s wishes.

Pompey wanted such potential cornerstones for the future to remain steadfastly in place.

Except, the decision wasn’t theirs to make.

In addition, other home-grown talents such as James Hurst, Matt Ritchie, Marlon Pack and Liam O’Brien were deemed surplus to ex-Blues boss Steve Cotterill’s requirements.

All four have played in the Football League this season, with Pack and Ritchie in the running for League Two player-of-the-season awards.

Of course Magri hasn’t gone yet, with a fee with Liverpool still to be agreed. An important point to clarify.

However, he could soon be following a well-worn track in recent times.

Take Sowah, for instance, who became one of the youngster-ever players in Pompey history when he appeared as a substitute against Blackburn in April 2010.

The German left-back was aged just 17 years, seven months and 12 days at the time.

He would go on to feature in five of the Blues’ last six Premier League games under Avram Grant – three of them starts.

But that summer it was discovered his contract had expired and he returned to Hamburg – the place of his birth.

Pompey rec-eived a minimal fee in return in recognition of developing his talents.

In January he joined Millwall on loan until the end of the season after impressing on trial.

However, injury has ensured he is yet to make his debut for the Championship side.

Belgian midfielder Cuvelier was tipped for massive things and made five reserve appearances.

Yet he walked out on Pompey in April 2010 after his father became disillusioned with the club.

Despite having two years remaining on his contract, just three months later he signed for Stoke after a settlement was agreed.

The Potters beat off the likes of Manchester City, Spurs and Fulham to snatch the Belgium under-19 captain.

Cuvelier’s pro-gress has continued at the Britannia Stadium and he is currently on loan at Walsall until the end of the season.

Since joining in January, he has played five times and scored twice for the relegation-threatened League One side.

Ciftci was offered a new deal to remain at Fratton Park but made up his mind long before he was going to see out his contract.

A Dutchman of Turkish descent, he emerged under Cotterill as a genuine star in the making.

Highly-regarded by the Pompey boss, he featured heavily in the 2010 pre-season and scored the winning penalty to take the Edmonton Cup.

Ciftci netted on his full debut against Stevenage in the Carling Cup and also on his first Championship start against Reading the following match.

Although regularly used from the bench, once his desire to leave at the end of the season became known, Cotterill rarely used him again.

In total, he made 22 appearances and scored two goals until moving to Kayserispor in the summer of 2011.

Pompey were compensated around £100,000 by the Turkish club, where he has featured several times this season.

Then there was Williams, who moved to Fulham on transfer deadline day for £295,000.

The Australian winger burst on to the first-team scene as a substitute against the Hawks last summer.

He subsequently became a regular in Cotterill’s first-team squad, featuring as a substitute in the first three matches of the current season.

After time away from the squad, he returned under new boss Michael Appleton, coming off the bench at Chelsea in the FA Cup.

That would prove to be his sixth – and final – appearance for Pompey.

Three weeks later he had moved to Fulham.

Of course, Pompey chose to let other academy products depart.

Liam O’Brien was released and joined Barnet in January 2011.

He has now made 15 appearances, including featuring in the 4-0 defeat to Bradford on Tuesday night.

Hurst was sold to West Bromwich Albion in August 2010 and this season has spent time out on loan at Blackpool, Shrewsbury and Chesterfield.

As for Ritchie and Pack, they need no introduction as they continue to impress in League Two.

For Pompey it is about the ones that got away – and Magri has joined a lengthening queue.