Best signing in years: Man City loss is huge Leeds gain as special attacker torments defenders
COMMENT By Richard Parks
Jack Clarke is the best of a hugely exciting crop of Leeds United youngsters.
The club hierarchy knew the forward was special 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 long regarded as a first-team star of the future.
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 another United academy product Lewis Cook has done this season at Bournemouth
York-born Clarke ripped it up for Leeds 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 once again on Monday night as he tormented the Bristol City defence and spearheaded Leeds Under-23s to a 4-0 win, as they ended an impressive Professional Development League campaign in great style.
Operating as a left-sided forward, Clarke caused mayhem whenever he had the ball at his feet, linking particularly well with centre-forward Sam Dalby.
The two only joined forces when Dalby, 18, transferred from Leyton Orient in January but already look capable of reproducing their impressive partnership in the pressure cooker of senior football.
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.
City’s loss is Leeds’ gain, to put it mildly.
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 he is clearly emerging as their best signing in years.