The Athletic’s Leeds United writer Phil Hay expects Tottenham Hotspur to recall Jack Clarke from his loan spell at Elland Road in January.
Clarke joined Spurs from Leeds on a permanent transfer in the summer in a deal worth a base £10million (BBC), but was immediately loaned back to his childhood side for the 2019/20 campaign.
Clarke was one of the breakout talents of Leeds’ 2018/19 season, as Marcelo Bielsa arrived at Elland Road and sought to promote a flurry of young prospects into the senior fold.
The York-born winger would end the term as the Whites’ Young Player of the year, having been involved in four goals (two scored, two assisted per TransferMarkt) during his 22 outings in the Championship, with his assist against Sheffield United creating the winning goal at Bramall Lane in December.
His return to Elland Road as a permanent player of Tottenham has not seen the 18-year-old enjoy a prolonged run in Leeds’ line-up, though, with Bielsa only awarding the United product two appearances to date, both of which came in the Carabao Cup.
Clarke has not been named in one of Bielsa’s 18-man Championship matchday squads since the second week of the term, either, and Hay expects Spurs to look negatively on his lack of game time.
It is understood that Tottenham inserted a clause in Clarke’s temporary deal that would offer the North London outfit the chance to issue a recall in January, providing the youngster has not played an unspecified number of games.
The same stipulations are thought to be in Leeds’ agreement with Arsenal for Eddie Nketiah, but the Gunners striker is set to meet the threshold of games required to prevent an early departure from West Yorkshire.
From Leeds or Tottenham’s perspective, Clarke’s return to Elland Road on loan has not been a successful transfer, with the Whites product failing to cement a role for himself in Bielsa’s plans and lingering back in the United youth ranks.
Injuries may open the door for Clarke to be awarded more minutes, but that would appear to be his only way back into the senior fold in West Yorkshire at present, with Bielsa favouring Jack Harrison, Pablo Hernandez and Helder Costa as his more frequent wide options (WhoScored).
Ezgjan Alioski and Stuart Dallas have also been favoured more often than Clarke in the league so far, but a lot can happen between now and the winter market creeping open.
That said, the number of players Leeds have on loan has been what has held Clarke back the most, with Bielsa only able to name five of the six loanees at his disposal in any one league game, and Ben White, Costa, Harrison, Nketiah and Illan Meslier have been the Argentine’s poison of choice thus far.
Leeds fans, should Clarke be in Bielsa’s 18-man squad, or is a return to Tottenham best for all? Let us know in the comments below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more Leeds United notifications!