Middlesbrough have emerged as one of the Championship clubs interested in signing Jack Clarke on loan from Tottenham this winter.
Clarke is a fringe player under Jose Mourinho in North London. He’s lacking first-team minutes in domestic competitions and is only really involved in the Europa League.
As per Sky Sports’ Transfer Centre (06/01, 10:45), there’s interest in Clarke coming from Middlesbrough, as well as Championship rivals Stoke City, Swansea City, Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry City.
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In terms of Boro, they are flirting with a place in the top-six under Neil Warnock, but the manager up on Teesside is a keen dealer in the transfer window and will look to revamp his squad this January.
So, what can you make of the Clarke links? Would he be a good signing?
We dive into a few pros and cons…
Pro: Undoubted talent
Clarke initially burst onto the scene over two years ago at Leeds United. Marcelo Bielsa blooded him around the festive period of 2018 and he excelled.
Pace to burn, trickery to beat a man and a source of goals, he was electric in that period.
A £10m move to Tottenham followed in the summer and, despite the 20-year-old’s career stagnating after loans back at Leeds and with QPR, he’s an undoubted talent.
Get him back to those levels he showed at Leeds and he is frightening.
Con: Where are those levels?
This is the main issue when it comes to Clarke. He’s not shown his best in around two years.
His loan at Leeds last season yielded only 19 minutes in the Championship, whilst a move to Queens Park Rangers in January was just as uninspiring.
Clarke stayed with Spurs back in the summer and has made his debut for the club.
However, he’s not quite at that first-team level yet and another loan feels likely.
The risk in that comes with Clarke repeating what he showed at Leeds and QPR in 2019/20. If Boro get that version of him, the deal is a waste of time.
Pro: Good use of the Premier League loan market
Given the tight nature of funds in the EFL right now, the use of the Premier League loan market couldn’t be anymore important.
Last season we saw Leeds, West Brom and Fulham (the three promoted sides) lean heavily on signing players on loan from the top-flight.
Clarke is at Tottenham for a reason and, as we’ve stated already, if Boro get the best version of him, he will boost their top-six hopes.
Premier League loans are not alien to Boro, but them working out like they did for Leeds, West Brom and Fulham is.
There’s a lot of ‘ifs and buts’, but Clarke could turn out to be one shrewd piece of business when we look back in six months.
Con: Is it all just a waste of time?
If you were asked to describe a typical Neil Warnock player, you wouldn’t point to Clarke.
Yes, he’s a direct winger, with tricks up his sleeve and the potential to score goals, but he’s also raw and off-the-cuff. Warnock prefers his workman-like players: Jonny Howson, Sam Morsy.
Patrick Roberts has been wasted by the Boro boss this season and the fear with chasing Clarke is that he will cut the same frustrated figure on the sidelines.
Clarke might be easier to get hold of than Yannick Bolasie or Kamil Grosicki, but if he’s not going to be used, what’s the point?