Since Victor Orta came into Leeds United as director of football back in the summer of 2017, the club have completed some pretty impressive recruitment drives in the various transfer windows.
The likes of Raphinha, Illan Meslier and Diego Llorente, among others, have all arrived under his watch, and while that mat point to someone who’s got the Midas touch when it comes to new signings, it doesn’t showcase his ability to get players out the door.
Jack Clarke was one of the hottest prospects coming out of the Leeds academy before reports back in the summer of 2019 claimed that Tottenham paid a £9m fee to Leeds to sign Clarke, before sending him back to Elland Road for the season.
There’s no doubting that he looked a real prospect when he first burst onto the scene, with Noel Whelan waxing-lyrical about him back in 2019, saying:
“He has got a great ability to glide past players. I don’t think I’ve seen a winger really as talented as that, where it looks effortless, just to take somebody on and he really does get you on the edge of your seat, he’s one of those exciting players.”
In fact, after watching the then 18-year-old shine in an impressive 2-0 win against Derby County in the Championship, Gary Lineker took to Twitter to rave about the teenager.
He said: “Not the first Clarke to strut his stuff at Elland Road, but Jack Clarke looks a player. Another talented young English footballer born in 2000.”
But, things just haven’t quite worked out for him since his move to Tottenham, with just four first-team appearances to his name for the Lilywhites – even that has only totalled 95 minutes worth of senior football.
Clarke has spent most of his time in the past couple of years out on loan at the likes of QPR and Stoke, and it’s no surprise that according to Transfermarkt, his value is now at a measly £4.5m – half of what Spurs paid.
That’s a real indication of just how much of a step backwards his career has taken since Spurs signed him, and exactly why Orta delivered a masterclass in allowing him to leave in 2019.
Orta cashed out at the perfect time, getting good money for a young talent who had played just a small handful of first-team games for Leeds.
While it’s disappointing to see Clarke fail to realise his potential just yet on a more personal level, for Leeds as a club, their decision to let him go when his value was at his highest, was an absolute masterstroke in management.
Leeds fans will surely be buzzing with how Orta played the market.