Leeds played masterclass over Jack Clarke

Leeds United have brought through a host of talented young prospects through their academy system at Elland Road throughout their history.

The likes of Kalvin Phillips, Lewis Cook, Charlie Taylor, Jonny Howson and Sam Byram are among the more recent successful graduates, whilst their youth setup previously churned out the likes of James Milner, the late Gary Speed, Aaron Lennon and Paul Robinson, among others.

Not every promising youngster who comes through the system ends up making a name for themselves in Yorkshire, though, and sometimes the club have decided to cash in on academy players instead of looking to develop them further.

One player with whom the Whites parted quite early in his career was young winger Jack Clarke, who was brought into the first team by Marcelo Bielsa in the 2018/19 campaign and made 24 Championship appearances – scoring twice – that season.

He was then sold to Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2019 for a fee in the region of £10m, and that deal has turned out to be a masterclass of a move by Victor Orta.

The 21-year-old made only four first-team appearances in three years at Spurs before being sold to Sunderland, who had just been promoted out of League One, for an undisclosed fee this summer.

Were Leeds right to sell Clarke?




This shows that he failed to prove his worth at Premier League level, as Tottenham did not see enough him to think that it was worth keeping him around in the long-term.

They were happy to cash in on him and cut their losses, if the undisclosed fee turns out to be less than £10m, and this indicates that he failed to live up to their initial expectations.

Journalist Josh Bunting previously described Clarke as a “luxury” player who would get “bullied” in League One and dubbed him “frustrating” due to his lack of end product after getting into good positions.

The lightweight was bullied in the air in the third tier last season as he lost 64% of his aerial duels, having come off second best in 75% of them during his loan spell with Stoke in the Championship in 2020/21.

Clarke has struggled to deliver in the final third on a consistent basis in his short career to date. The 21-year-old managed two goal contributions in 14 matches for the Potters and has chipped in with two goals in 26 appearances for Sunderland, whilst also setting up five.

These statistics, and Tottenham’s decision to sell him to a club in the Championship, suggests that Orta played a masterclass by selling him when he did.

He got £10m for a player who has since struggled to kick on, while Leeds have won promotion to the Premier League and stayed in the top flight for two seasons in the same timeframe, which shows that they have been on the up whilst Clarke has been on his way down.