Mixed messages over possible Jack Clarke transfer
Wednesday, 19th Jun 2019 18:17 by Tim Whelan
Noel Whelan has suggested that Leeds are still talking to Tottenham Hotspur about Jack Clarke, but the Yorkshire Post are reporting that nothing has yet been agreed.
You’ll probably know that former Leeds striker Noel Whelan (no relation to me as far as I know) is now gainfully employed as an expert matchday co-commentator on Radio Leeds, where he is known for his witty observations during our matches, along with a few tales of his playing days. But Leeds fans might be a little less amused by his suggestion that the departure of young Jack Clarke could be on the way.
Whelan told ‘Football Insider’ “There is obviously interest in Jack Clarke from Tottenham. The clubs are in constant talks over a deal and talking to each regularly about how a deal could be structured. Leeds want £20million for him, which, even in this market, is a lot of money for someone with talent, but who has a long way to go. It’s probably the reason for the lack of transfer activity from Leeds so far. Do they have to sell before they buy?”
But the Yorkshire Post are telling us that “As of yesterday the YEP were told nothing had been agreed between Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur for the 18-year-old winger. Spurs are yet to meet United's valuation of their academy product, but Pochettino's side are very keen on acquiring the youngster this summer with interest growing.”
It may well be true that Leeds need to raise some cash from incoming transfers, as Phil Hay has already suggested that the club lost around £15m in the season just finished, due to an increase in the wage bill. Andrea Radrizzani said that it will be a difficult close season in the transfer market summer and will be making good use of the academy players. But does this mean using them in the sense of getting big incoming fees, not only for Clarke but a possible £14 million for Kalvin Phillips.
It would obviously be a wrench for Leeds to part with Clarke, even though he didn’t quite maintain his progress during the second half of the season. Whether it was because he didn’t quite get back to full fitness after his virus problem at Middlesbrough or because we lost the surprise element and opponents were quicker to close him down, he didn’t have the same impact when brought on in the vital games at the end of the season when we urgently needed a goal. All the same, if he goes on to have a stellar career in the future, we may feel that even at £20m we let him go for a very cheap price.
The fact that Leeds have been chasing a series of other wingers might be an indication that the club have already decided to cash in on Clarke and it’s only a matter of holding out to try and extract the maximum possible fee from Tottenham. We’ve been linked with Helder Costa at Wolves and Liverpool’s Ryan Kent, as well as trying to agree another season’s loan for Jack Harrison. Which suggests that the powers that be might prefer to have a slightly more experienced winger for the vital season to come, with plenty of cash left over to strengthen the squad in other areas.
In other news, Leeds have confirmed the first departure of the summer, as Paudie O'Connor’s loan spell at Bradford City has now been converted into a permanent transfer. O'Connor made his first team debut towards the end of 2017/18 under Paul Heckingbottom, but Bielsa clearly thinks he isn’t going to reach the standard demanded by the Championship, so he leaves despite the squad’s lack of depth in central defence. None of the reports of his departure have made any mention of a transfer fee.
Leeds will continue to trim the squad of players who are surplus to requirement, which will reduce the wage bill and might bring in the odd million in transfer fees. But the painful truth is that to raise sufficient funds for any serious incoming players who can make an impact in the Championship, the reality is that it’s likely that we will need to part with either Clarke or Phillips. And that’s likely to be the case every summer until we finally get ourselves back into the Premier League.
Reuters Media Express
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