Leeds United have transformed this season under the guidance of their Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa and have a superb chance of securing automatic promotion to the Premier League in May.
Portsmouth meanwhile are also enjoying a fantastic campaign in League One yet any hopes of moving up to the second tier of English football may have to come via the play-offs as a top-two finish is looking like a tall order for Kenny Jackett’s side.
One of Pompey’s most impressive players this season has been defender Matt Clarke who was majestic in their Checkatrade Trophy victory last Sunday against Sunderland. Unsurprisingly, the 22-year-old has reportedly been linked with a move to Leeds in the summer (according to the Times), a deal that could depend on the crescendo of both club’s seasons.
With this in mind, let’s compare Clarke with one of the Whites’ current stars…
Since emerging as a regular for Portsmouth in the 2016/17 season which saw them win the League Two title, Matt Clarke has improved year-on-year at Fratton Park with the current campaign being his best to date. Arguably one of the best defenders playing in the lower leagues, it is almost certain that the former Ipswich academy graduate can make the move up to either the Championship or the Premier League in the near future.
His performances under manager Kenny Jackett this season will be remembered for years to come if he can lead his side to promotion, whether it be via a top-two finish or by helping Pompey successfully negotiate their way through the play-offs in May.
TT GRADE: A-
After joining Leeds United in 2016 on a permanent deal from Torino, Pontus Jansson has more than justified the £3.5m fee that the club paid for him (via the Yorkshire Evening Post) despite experiencing somewhat of a tough start to life at Elland Road. This season has seen the Swedish defender thrive in Bielsa’s system alongside Liam Cooper with many of the club’s supporters seeing him as somewhat of a hero for his contributions.
If the Whites are to secure a return to the Premier League after 15 years away, Jansson will undoubtedly play a role in helping them achieve this goal, further securing what is becoming a brilliant legacy for the 28-year-old.
TT GRADE: B+
The possibility of securing the signing on Matt Clarke in the summer should excite Leeds United supporters as it would undoubtedly strengthen their squad ahead of next season. However, a move for the defender shouldn’t be made if it means that Pontus Jansson will be replaced as his impact on the Whites’ side is so great that bringing anyone else in may disrupt their rhythm going forward.
Although it is undeniable that Clarke has what it takes to play at a higher level than League One, it could be too early for him to move to the Premier League if Leeds do secure promotion to the top-flight at the end of the season.