By Wayne Veysey
Jack Clarke will sign for Tottenham and then be loaned straight back to Leeds United – after Mauricio Pochettino and Marcelo Bielsa mapped out his future.
Bielsa and Pochettino have held extensive discussions about how Clarke will be used at Leeds next season and agreed his development will be best served at Elland Road rather than in the Spurs development squad.
As revealed by Football Insider last week, the Premier League giants were today announcing the teenage winger as their first signing in 18 months after tying up a deal worth up to a potential £12million.
In a late twist to the deal, it has been agreed that Clarke will immediately head back to United on loan for next season.
He was training with Bielsa’s senior squad at their Thorp Arch headquarters today and attempting to impressive the manager as he looks to add to the 25 senior appearances he made after breaking into the Leeds team last October.
That only five of them came in the starting XI is illustrative of how callow Clarke is, and that Tottenham are paying for potential rather than anything like the finished article.
Spurs have made it clear how highly they think of Clarke, and the proof has come with a lucrative contract that will make him an instant millionaire.
He was far from that at Leeds, where the academy product was still on his first professional contract – signed on his 17th birthday in November of 2017 – and one of the lowest paid players in the first-team squad.
Expectations of him will now rocket following Spurs’ splurge, for a fee which could eventually be worth far more than that paid for the other United academy products who have quit the club in recent years to join Premier League clubs, or in the case of Ronaldo Vieira, a Serie A one.
Sources at Tottenham and Leeds have told Football Insider that the relationship between Bielsa and Pochettino is at the heart of this transfer.
The 63-year-old, who is Pochettino’s coaching mentor and managed him at the start of his playing career in Argentina, has been open with the Spurs boss about Clarke, his character, attitude and playing ability, and, crucially, what he needs to do to maximise his ability.
An orthodox winger who can glide past players effortlessly and score spectacular goals, Clarke burst onto the scene with a flurry of dazzling cameos, mainly as a substitute.
Word gets around quickly in football, and Championship teams were soon plotting ways to negate his pace and dribbling ability. With some success, it has to be said.
Partly due to a mystery virus sustained in February and partly due to mixed form, Clarke was far less effective in the final months of last season.
Pochettino recognises that the teenager’s development will be best served working under Bielsa for another season and learning his trade against senior defenders in the Championship.
Crucially, the 47-year-old trusts Bielsa to develop Clarke in a playing style that has clear similarities with the aggressive and aesthetically pleasing one and two-touch combination play of the Champions League finalists.
Clarke is not ready to slot into the Tottenham first-team squad. Not yet. Nowhere near. Both Pochettino and Bielsa are agreed on that.
The plan is for him to play perhaps 25-30 matches for Leeds next season – he will face growing competition next season, with Helder Costa set to join on loan from Wolves – and then link up with the Spurs Under-23s.
How long he spends with the youth squad is dependent upon Clarke himself, and how he develops.
He will hope to repeat the success of Dele Alli, who was so good, so quickly after completing his loan back at Mk Dons, that Pochettino had no choice but to fast-track him into the first team while still a teenager.
In other Leeds United news, it can be REVEALED that a rival club are plotting a sensational double Leeds swoop as exodus also underway.