Brighton and Hove Albion reporter Richard Mills has admitted he believes the Seagulls will cash in on central defender, Matt Clarke, this summer for the ‘right price’, in an interview with Yorkshire Live.
Clarke, 24, first joined the Premier League side in 2019 from League One club Portsmouth, with the centre-back arriving at The Amex Stadium for an undisclosed fee after impressing at Pompey for three seasons and helping the south-coast side achieve League Two promotion.
But despite his promise and commanding presence at the back, Clarke has failed to make a single appearance for Brighton and has been shipped out on loan to Derby County twice in the past couple of years.
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In normal times, this would have put the Rams in pole position to land the 24-year-old if he was made available on a permanent deal.
However, the East Midlands have gone through a sticky patch this summer with their ownership status remaining uncertain and the club also placed under a transfer embargo, making this type of transfer impossible for Wayne Rooney’s side to complete as things stand.
As per The Sun journalist Alan Nixon, recently relegated side Sheffield United are said to be interested in a move for the central defender.
With Kean Bryan’s contract situation remaining unclear, Jack O’Connell’s long-term injury ruling him out of pre-season and Phil Jagielka being released last month, the Blades are currently prioritising this area as a position to strengthen and have the resources to make a permanent deal possible.
In a major boost to their transfer hopes, Suffolk Live journalist, Mills, thinks a permanent exit could be on the horizon this summer.
Speaking to his counterpart Nathan Hemmingham at Yorkshire Live, Mills stated: “The Athletic said Graham Potter remains a fan of him but it is difficult to see Clarke, who has two years left on his contract, getting much of a look in.
“If the right price came along, I think Brighton would accept. There are a lot of hurdles for him to overcome to reach the first-team and Adam Webster, who was excellent last season, is just a year older and plays at left centre-back.
“If (Ben) White is sold, he has a chance of staying. If not, I think a move could be on the cards.”
Fellow Brighton centre-back Ben White is reportedly closing in on a £50m move to Arsenal, potentially giving Clarke a second chance on the south-coast if the deal goes through.
Looking at Clarke’s situation at the Premier League side, the Seagulls are likely to use the £50m received from the Gunners for White to splash out on a replacement, and this could signal the end of Clarke’s unsuccessful time at his current club.
He may not have been given a chance in the top flight, but he has played regularly for Derby in the past two seasons and the number of minutes he’s managed to get under his belt should be a great source of optimism for Jokanovic if he secures this deal.
Bryan looks like he’s on his way out and with O’Connell’s injury situation, a new centre-back must come in before next month. Jokanovic has said he’s happy with his current squad – but knows deep down that this is a position to address in the short-term.