Tottenham Hotspur are going after some genuinely big fish in the transfer window if you read the major newspapers, but it wouldn’t be summer if Spurs weren’t also linked to some young, under the radar players as well. Take this rumor today: Tottenham are apparently planning a bid for 18-year old Leeds winger Jack Clarke after an impressive debut campaign at Elland Road.
Clarke is 18 but has some pretty decent numbers — two goals and two assists in 814 minutes with Leeds in the Championship, almost all of them in substitution minutes. Joel Wortheimer crunched some numbers and came up with “around 4 shots + shot assists/90” which is pretty good, plus decent dribbling numbers in context. It may not look that impressive, but it’s pretty solid for a teenager in limited minutes in his first season in the Championship. Clarke’s solid with the ball at his feet and has excelled in wide positions playing in a forward attacking midfield band despite his young age. He certainly didn’t look out of place on a Leeds side that led the Championship for much of the season before getting football’d out of the playoffs. He’s also 6’2 and might not be done growing.
Want a video? Here’s one with an obligatory bad techno soundtrack.
He’s been on the radar of some big clubs for a while now — Manchester City apparently tried to lure him to their academy a while back, and Leeds even went as far as to try to minimize his minutes last season for the U23s to keep his hype lower. He’s also clearly benefitted from working under Marcelo Bielsa, and it wouldn’t be that far of a leap for him to fit into the plans of Mauricio Pochettino, a former Bielsa protégé.
If there’s a concern, it’s not football related, it’s health — Clarke collapsed in the dugout during a draw at Middlesbrough in February, with the Telegraph reporting he suffered some sort of a seizure after being subbed off at halftime. He was briefly hospitalized but seemed to make a full recovery.
The source of the transfer rumor is the Yorkshire Evening Post, which is interesting in and of itself. Regional papers, especially the ones in the areas of smaller clubs, generally get the goods on transfer rumors before the larger papers do, so I’m inclined to believe there’s some genuine interest here. Clarke isn’t a player who will waltz into Pochettino’s starting lineup, so there might be the possibility of loaning him back to Leeds for a year to get some additional Bielsa-time, or Poch could opt to ease him into the side in the same way he did Juan Foyth — gradually, using cup competitions for minutes.
There’s no indication as to how much he might cost — other reports are going with £10m which may or may not be accurate but doesn’t feel wrong. The Yorkshire Post says that Spurs haven’t lodged a bid for him, but they expect one will be coming, probably after the Champions League final.
Youth players are always a crap-shoot, but Clarke looks like an exciting, and English, prospect and is almost certainly worth a flyer.