Danny Mills has urged Jack Clarke to snub offers from Premier League clubs and remain at Leeds United next season regardless of promotion.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former United defender claimed the teenager winger is better off learning his trade at Elland Road than joining a club for more money where he will be further down the pecking order.
The attacker’s future is likely to come under the microscope at the end of the campaign as he one of the club’s lowest earners and talks over a new contract are yet to begin.
“I think Jack Clarke should stay at Leeds,” Mills told Football Insider. “He’s played a few games this season, he’s not played often enough and when I look at players who have left Leeds United too early in the past, it’s very, very difficult not to.
“His mentors, his agents, his parents, whoever’s looking after him, other players, maybe speak to senior players, it’s very, very difficult if a bigger club comes in with a lot more money, double, treble your wages. You think, ‘I’ve got to go now, it’s my opportunity’.
“Sometimes it’s very, very difficult to hold yourself back and go ‘no, I need to play.’ He can’t get into the Leeds team at the moment, week in, week out, so if he goes to a so-called bigger club, a Premier League side, is he going to play week in, week out? No. Simple as that.
“Therefore, what happens to him, is he just going to play under-23s football? What’s he going to do? He’s then going to get pushed out on loan, where does his future go in terms of building his career?
“Whereas if he stays and next season he plays 20, 25 games, if Leeds don’t get promoted or even if they do, then suddenly if he makes that move next season or the season after, you go to a bigger club and you’ve got a chance of playing. That’s a difference.”
Clarke was fast-tracked into the Leeds side in the autumn and made a big impact as a substitute in a series of Championship matches, scoring and creating some crucial goals.
He has been on the fringes since suffering a mystery illness in the 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough in February and has not started a game since then.
In other Leeds United news, Burnley have set their sights on a Whites ace as contract talks are set to begin.