This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Championship side West Bromwich Albion are closing in on a loan deal for Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Matt Clarke, according to The Telegraph’s John Percy.
The two sides, who were previously believed to have negotiated a permanent deal, are close to a loan agreement for the 24-year-old who has failed to make any sort of impact at The Amex Stadium since he arrived from Portsmouth back in 2019.
Instead, he has found regular playing minutes on loan at Derby County for the past two seasons and after impressing at the East Midlands side, was recently being monitored by the Baggies and fellow Championship promotion hopefuls Sheffield United.
With experienced 30-year-old Kyle Bartley linked with Newcastle United and Crystal Palace in recent times and Trevoh Chalobah’s move to The Hawthorns being cast into doubt amid interest from other sides, they look set to get this deal over the line for the Premier League defender.
Clarke is yet to feature in the top flight and with West Brom, he will be hoping to play a big part next season and get to the top tier as the Baggies look to push for promotion once again.
But would he be a regular starter in the West Midlands under manager Valerien Ismael?
We asked three of our FLW writers this key question.
For me, he’s too good to be sat on the bench.
Ismael often looks to utilise a back three and I can see him slotting in alongside Semi Ajayi and Kyle Bartley in the new season.
Clarke has impressed during loan stints at Derby County and how shown that he is more than capable at second tier level.
He’s comfortable on the ball, has an impressive passing range and has exhibited defensive qualities such as strong tackling ability and an aerial presence, he’d be a really positive addition for the Baggies.
Kyle Bartley’s future does still remain in limbo at the Hawthorns, so if he did go on to depart the Midlands club this summer, Clarke’s starting berth would be even more assured.
I think he’d certainly be pushing for that.
Clarke is a really good defender and he has just been unlucky with the options that Brighton have, meaning that he’s been struggling for game time there and often been out on loan.
However, he’s been a really decent defender when he has been playing in the Championship for the likes of Derby County and I think he’d be a good signing for the Albion heading into next season.
The club obviously has some good players in those positions already in the middle of the defence but I do think there is room for Clarke and that extra competition for places should only benefit everyone connected with the club.
I’d be shocked if not.
Derby were a shambles at times last season, but Clarke was undoubtedly one of their standout performers and he was a real warrior at the back.
I’m surprised he hasn’t been given a chance to impress at Brighton and they always seem keen to get him out on loan, rather than develop him themselves.
If Valerien Ismael sticks to his guns and sticks with his trusted 3-4-3 system, then you could see Clarke slotting in as a left-sided centre-half with ease.
He’s good in the air but also impressive on the ball, and I think he will be such a key player for them going forward into next season.