Why Jack Clarke could be a shrewd signing for Derby County in January
According to claims from Football Insider, as relayed by the Derbyshire Live, Derby County have been linked with a loan move for teenage winger Jack Clarke, who is currently out on loan at Leeds United from Tottenham Hotspur.
The 19-year-old, who shot to prominence at Leeds United in the Championship last season, was loaned back to Elland Road for the entirety of the ongoing campaign after completing a £10 million switch to Premier League giants Tottenham this past summer.
Clarke carved out a big reputation as a fine young talent in his breakthrough season under Whites’ boss Marcelo Bielsa last term but things have taken a complete U-turn for the teenage sensation since his return to West Yorkshire on loan.
The England U-20 international was loaned out to his former club with the hope of furthering his development with regular minutes in the Championship, but Clarke is yet to start a single league fixture for Leeds United in the ongoing campaign.
The teenager has played only 19 minutes of Championship football so far this term and that has fuelled speculations over his future at Elland Road beyond January.
As per the report, Derby County and Middlesbrough are ready to pounce on the opportunity to sign Clarke on loan when the transfer window reopens in January, while Fulham are also very much in the race.
Meanwhile, Derby County currently find themselves languishing 16th in the Championship standings after a rather inconsistent first half of the campaign under Phillip Cocu, who has only managed to guide the Rams to 6 wins in 22 games so far.
The Rams are already nine points adrift of the top-six (at the time of writing), and while it is certainly not impossible to close that gap with half the season still left to be played, Cocu will surely need to find a way to improve on a lacklustre goal tally of 21 goals in 22 games if Derby are to get back in the playoff mix.
Martyn Waghorn (6 goals), Chris Martin (3 goals, 4 assists) and Tom Lawrence (5 goals) have all chipped in with some decent goal returns but none of them has been consistent enough to deliver the goods week in, week out.
As a result, Derby have not only struggled to score enough goals but they have also found themselves bereft of ideas in the final third more often than not, with other creative players like Duane Holmes, Jamie Paterson, Kieran Dowell, Mason Bennett and Florian Jozefzoon just not doing enough to help the team.
To put things into perspective, it is a no-brainer that Derby County need to bring in some attacking reinforcements during the mid-season trading period, especially in the wide areas, and a loan deal for Jack Clarke could be a handsome short-term fix as far as the Rams are concerned.
The 19-year-old was largely used as an off-the-bench impact player at Leeds United last season but his talent and potential have never been in doubt, which is one of the reasons why he was snapped up by Tottenham back in the summer.
Clarke might not start every game if he were to move to Pride Park in January but he could well be the man to inject some much-needed vibrancy and X-factor to an attacking unit that has looked pretty mediocre more often than not.
The Rams have often left much to desire with their attacking play from the wide areas and the arrival of Jack Clarke could certainly hand a boost to Cocu’s squad dynamics while also increasing competition for places in the ranks.
The availability of Wayne Rooney from the New Year will certainly improve the club’s attack to a large extent but Clarke still fits the bill as an exciting winger with his ability to impact games and break the opposition down.
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All in all, Derby County could bag a real coup if they manage to beat off competition from their rivals in the race to sign the highly-rated Leeds graduate on loan in January.