‘When I look back’ - Napoli bound star reveals Rangers boss snub which set him back a few years

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One of Philippe Clement’s former players is on the verge of a blockbuster move to Serie A champions Napoli

Former Philippe Clement protege Cyril Ngonge has reflected on his departure from Club Brugge and how the management of the now Rangers boss set him back in his rise to the top.

Ngone - son of former Kilmarnock star Michel - is on the verge of one of biggest transfers of the January transfer window so far and his proposed £20m move to Italian champions Napoli is now all but agreed, according to reports from transfer guru Fabrizio Romano.

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The 23-year-old attacking midfielder, who is hoping to make his international breakthrough with the Belgian national team this summer, has enjoyed an excellent start to the season and his six goals and two assists in 19 games had reportedly caught the attention of Aston Villa and AC Milan before Napoli’s approach.

Ngone crossed paths with Clement during his time at Club Brugge. At the time, Ngone had just broken into the senior team, making four league appearances and featuring once in the Champions League during the 2018/19 season.

Still aged 19 at the time, Ngone hoped to gain further first team exposure in his second full season, but incoming manager Clement had other ideas and felt the attacker wasn’t quite ready to be a part of his plans.

Reflecting on his experience with Clement, Ngone explained : "I was 18 and I was given a few starts at Brugge including against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. But a few months later, Philippe Clement arrived, I did summer pre-season with the club. But he called me into his office to tell me that he was planning to buy another player in my position.

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“He then advised me to go on loan and I didn't take it very well at the time. When I look back, I would have liked it to have ended differently.”

The Belgian’s journey took him to Jong PSV on loan, in a season where his parent team Club Brugge lifted the title under Clement’s guidance. Permanent spells at RKC Waalwijk and FC Groningen followed for Ngone, before his move to Hellas Verona at the start of last season.

Speaking about his departure from Club Brugge. Ngone added: "I probably lost time in my development because of that and I maybe would have got to where I am now earlier.

“But those years in the Netherlands really shaped me as a player and as a man, with the good times and the bad. Either way, I don't regret anything. I accept my journey as it is, even if it took time for me to make the breakthrough."

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