What does £10m get you in today’s transfer market? Not a lot so it would seem.
Some absurd transfer fees were thrown about this summer, no less than Manchester United stumping up £80m for Harry Maguire.
Worth a considerable bit less than that is Jack Clarke, who for £10m of Tottenham’s finest pounds, moved from Leeds during the transfer window.
The fact he returned so imminently on loan was surprising.
There were some fascinating elements to this transfer, particularly in the fact that before joining Spurs he’d started just four times in the Championship.
Being sold for the fee he commanded, therefore, is rather remarkable.
This wasn’t a player like James Maddison who had scored 14 goals at that level before earning a move to Leicester. It was a young individual with just two strikes to his name last season, moving to a more reputable club, a side that were fresh off the back of a Champions League final.
Losing Clarke would have been a bitter blow. After all, he’s one of the finer players to come through the Thorp Arch academy in recent years, but what’s occurring this term decreases that damaging effect.
Arriving back at Elland Road on a temporary deal, the youngster has found life a struggle and, at the moment, he could miss out on a whole host of games in 2019/20.
And it appears as though the 18-year-old is the one to miss out. Against Wigan he was left at home, something that makes his £10m transfer fee look even better.
On the face of it, Leeds were able to sell an asset at a high price who isn’t near their first team. For that, they should be applauded.
Paul Bell made it no secret that Leeds sold Pontus Jansson for financial fair play reasons this summer, whilst Kemar Roofe and Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s decisions to move on to pastures new also likely helped in that regard.
However, the Swede was sold for a mere £5.5m. As a result, Clarke’s fee slightly makes up for receiving such a low income for the central defender’s services.
If that sale was astonishing for all the wrong reasons, then the young winger’s is shrewd for all the right ones.
Leeds’ business this summer had question marks surrounding it, particularly because they brought in so many players on loan. Yet, this was an example of Andrea Radrizzani and Victor Orta’s fine negotiation skills.
Orta had a huge role in bringing Eddie Nketiah to the club on deadline day, presenting his reasons to the Arsenal hierarchy on why Leeds would be the best destination for the striker.
But that business pales into significance to what they managed to achieve with Clarke. The fact a player who can’t even get into Leeds’ matchday squad was sold for £10m says a lot about the market and what money can buy you in 2019.
Clarke isn’t the finished article and it will take him a while before he becomes that. He was only involved in four goals in league action throughout the last campaign, whilst he played at right wing-back against Salford in the Carabao Cup.
That’s something that demonstrates just how tricky the attacker will find it to play in his natural role.
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A winger by trade, his absence isn’t being felt and instead it’s handing valuable experience to other academy stars like Mateusz Bogusz, one of the players to be included regularly on the bench.
It says a lot that an individual like him is being preferred in the squad to Clarke but it’s not as though Bielsa has much of a choice.
His hand is being forced by the number of loans they have and unless one gets an injury, it’s hard to see him coming in.
Of course, the situation could look altogether different if his future had not already been decided, as Bielsa would presumably prefer to offer opportunities to loanees that could potentially join permanently further down the line than a player who is destined to depart in 2020.
By the same token, however, if Clarke was really that integral he would surely be in the first team squad and contributing towards another promotion charge; the fact he is firmly on the periphery is telling.
And if the youngster continues to get left out and has less of an impact than he managed in 2018/19, there is a case to be made that his value will decrease despite being a year older.
For that reason alone, the £10m fee received is already looking like a cunning piece of business.