By Wayne Veysey

25th Mar, 2018 | 1:17pm

Best deal in years: Man City lose out to Leeds for special forward who has defenders on toast

COMMENT By Richard Parks

Jack Clarke is a really special talent.

Leeds United knew that when they tied him to his first professional contract at the earliest opportunity, his 17th birthday last November.

As revealed by Football Insider when we broke that story, the club have high hopes for a player they have been planning to fast-track into the first team due to his rapid progress.

But the evidence is growing that the teenager is not just worthy of being promoted to the senior squad, but that he is a player destined to establish himself in the Premier League in the same way that fellow United academy product Lewis Cook has done this season.

York-born Clarke ripped it up at Under-16s and Under-18s levels, and is now doing the same for the Under-23s.

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Supporters drooled over him on Friday as he tormented the Cardiff City defence and spearheaded Leeds Under-23s to a 3-0 win, their fourth consecutive triumph.

Operating as a left-sided forward, Clarke assisted the opening two goals and caused mayhem whenever he had the ball at his feet. He had defenders on toast.

Watching him in action, it is little wonder that, as a well-placed Leeds source told Football Insider, Manchester City were among the Premier League clubs trying to sign the teenager before he penned his first professional deal last November.

Leeds have a rich history of developing some of the country’s best players from their academy system and the club have high hopes Clarke will be the next one to not only play at the highest level but remain there.

Signing him up in the autumn was a smart move, and could be their most crucial deal in years.

In other Leeds United news, 13 players are fighting for their jobs as behind-the-scenes planned laid for huge cull.

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