In the last 24 hours Leeds United have got to work in the summer transfer window, with four players arriving through the Elland Road door. Three of those are loan signings, whilst the only permanent addition is Liam McCarron in the under-23s, giving a clear view of where Marcelo Bielsa and Victor Orta have targeted ahead of 2019/20.
Leeds watched on last season as Aston Villa and Derby County played out the Championship play-off final, with those two clubs heading to Wembley blessed with a crop of talent on loan from the Premier League. Now, the Whites have followed suit, with Jack Harrison and Ben White arriving on season-long loans, whilst Jack Clarke has gone full circle to return to Elland Road on loan after signing for Tottenham.
The latter, Clarke, is raw, but he’s still a good signing for Leeds. Despite only four starts in the Championship last season he did enough to convince Spurs to make their move, whilst electric performances against Aston Villa, Derby County and Nottingham Forest, to name a few, will encourage the Elland Road faithful that the 18-year-old will be of use next season.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) July 2, 2019
However, Clarke might find himself starved of game time due to Leeds looking to recruit talent from the fringes of the Premier League. According to BBC Radio Leeds’ Adam Pope, Helder Costa’s arrival from Wolves is well on the cards and the Portuguese is likely to be this summer’s marquee signing at Elland Road.
Bielsa will play with wingers and having options is a good thing. However, Clarke will now be up against Costa, Harrison, Pablo Hernandez and Ezgjan Alioski for a starting berth, whilst Start Dallas is another player who can also provide competition for those out wide.
In a less competitive group, Clarke struggled to nail down a regular place in the starting XI last year, and his influence on the side lessened following a collapse in February. Tottenham will hope that Leeds can restore the winger’s confidence, but in a campaign that the club will hope to challenge for promotion, they can’t really afford to focus too much on Clarke’s development to keep Spurs sweet.
Leeds United close to completing a loan deal for Wolves’ winger Helder Costa.
It is understood the deal will include an option to make the transfer permanent, which would turn into an obligation to buy Costa if Leeds were to gain promotion to PL #lufc pic.twitter.com/eDnfrxQmhZ
— Adam Pope (@apopey) July 2, 2019
Costa will be a starter on the right, and having been involved in almost 30 goals in two seasons in the Championship, it is safe to say that he is more likely to put Leeds on course for promotion than someone like Clarke. Harrison or Alioski offer a better balance to the side on the left, whilst Hernandez – involved in 24 goals last season – is another player who can operate from both sides of midfield.
Clarke only broke onto the scene last season and whilst he impressed by offering something different to the Leeds side, he’s still very much a prospect, who now finds himself behind four or five senior players at Leeds.
The decision for him to return makes complete sense for Tottenham and Clarke, with first-team opportunities more likely to come at Elland Road. Whilst for Leeds, they’re getting their hands on another Premier League loanee – a clear strategy for the summer.
However, when Costa arrives through the doors at Elland Road, Clarke is going to realise the uphill task he might face to secure the regular game time he and Spurs will want.