Former Scotland defender Alan Hutton thinks that teenage winger Jack Clarke may have “missed out” on the chance to win trophies by not joining Celtic despite the Hoops’ interest in him.
Football Insider reported that the Parkhead club had submitted a bid for the Tottenham youngster but had only done so after the 19-year-old had already commenced negotiations with QPR, whom he joined on loan on Thursday.
Hutton thinks that Clarke may have spurned a real opportunity to progress his career at Celtic by instead making the move to the English Championship for the rest of the season. He told Football Insider: “It could be a missed opportunity, especially when you think of people like Scott Sinclair who weren’t doing so great, went up there and then went from strength to strength.
“Scoring goals, proving yourself – all of this is possible up there. European football pretty much guaranteed, winning things – he might never get a chance to win trophies. So to go up there and really put a marker down and win trophies would be great experience for one so young. He could have missed out, you never know, it could still happen in the future, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Hutton makes some valid points about the likelihood of Clarke achieving success at Celtic had he moved to Glasgow rather than London. The Hoops have achieved a domestic treble in each of the last three seasons and have already claimed the Betfred Cup this term, making it 10 domestic trophies in a row. They are also on course to retain their Premiership title, holding a narrow lead on Rangers at the top of the table as they seek to become champions of Scotland for the ninth year in succession.
Plus, as Hutton has pointed out, European football comes more or less assured at Parkhead. Celtic have played in UEFA competitions in every year of the 21st century so far and, with Scotland getting three teams in the Europa League qualifying rounds, would be almost certain of going into that competition if they miss out on the Premiership title, with 27 points to spare on fifth-placed Livingston. Clarke has yet to even sample top-flight football in his fledgling career but could have been featuring in the last 32 of the Europa League this year had he gone to Celtic.
Hutton also cited the case of Sinclair, who came to Celtic in 2016 after scoring just two league goals for Aston Villa the previous season and went on to hit 62 goals in three-and-a-half years at Parkhead, where he won nine trophies. The Hoops’ current on-loan winger Mohamed Elyounoussi scored seven goals in his first 12 games for Neil Lennon’s side after failing to find the net in 19 matches for parent club Southampton last term. These are two examples of wide players prospering at Celtic after struggling for recognition in England, with Clarke making just three appearances during a loan spell at Leeds earlier this season.
The 19-year-old still has plenty of time in his career to sample European football and win trophies, although as Hutton has said, he may have missed out on a strong chance of ticking both of those boxes within a few months had he gone to Celtic rather than QPR in this transfer window.
Celtic fans, do you agree with Hutton’s assertion that the unsuccessful pursuit of Clarke was “a missed opportunity” for him? Tell us what you think by commenting below!
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