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‘Lacks muscle, reads the game well’; verdict on Chelsea’s Clarke-Slater as he joins Sunderland

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Sunderland have confirmed the signing of Jake Clarke-Salter until the end of the season, but is he any good?

Sunderland Unveil New Loan Signing Jake Clarke-Salter Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland have confirmed the signing of Chelsea youngster Jake Clarke-Salter until the end of the season.

A product of the Chelsea academy system, Clarke-Salter has been a star of England’s youth set-ups in recent years and spent part of last season on loan at Bristol Rovers. His stint with the Pirates was hampered by a serious arm injury but he did make more than a dozen appearances in League One.

Speaking to SAFC.com about the transfer, Chris Coleman said:

Jake is a hugely talented young player who has jumped at the opportunity to come to this club and show people what he can do.

You don’t play for a club like Chelsea unless you have tremendous ability and I’m sure he will be able to demonstrate that for Sunderland.

Jake is exactly the type of hungry young player I have spoken about and he has shown me just how keen he is to come to here and play in front of our supporters.

The 20-year-old joins a Black Cats side at a low ebb. Bottom of the Championship and freshly dumped out of the FA Cup by local rivals, Chris Coleman faces a huge task to bring in fresh blood in the transfer window to launch a renewed relegation battle.

So, is Clarke-Salter what we need right now? We collared two journalists who’ve seen him in action to get the verdict.

Chelsea on Their Pre-Season to Singapore
Clarke-Salter training with England
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Simon Phillips, Chelsea fan & freelance sports journalist - as seen on TransferNewsCentral;

Overall, a quality addition to the Sunderland side. Excellent for Chelsea as he needs regular football. He has everything there and is highly regarded at Stamford Bridge.

Very comfortable on the ball, meaning he is capable of playing anywhere across the back. Calm, composed and has a decent eye for a pass.

Many Chelsea fans saw him as a successor for John Terry as he shares some similarities.

Lacks pace, but reads the game very well and is good in the air. One of those ‘great feet for a big man’ types.

Clarke-Salter playing for Bristol Rovers last season
Image: Bristol Rovers FC

Jack Vittles, Bristol Rovers reporter for the Bristol Post;

Clarke-Salter’s time as Rovers wasn’t altogether successful. An injury ruled him out for three months but just 13 appearances across the season shows Darrell Clarke’s wasn’t entirely willing to trust the young defender. He started around half of the games he was available for.

However, some Rovers fans couldn’t understand why he wasn’t given more opportunities. Many thought he would flourish at a higher level, as he perhaps wasn’t physically cut out for League One football.

His skill on the ball was never in doubt but his commitment in the tackle and ability to cope with large frontmen was questioned. That said, Clarke-Salter enjoyed a sensational summer with the Young Lions and perhaps flourishes in a slightly less physical level of football.


The verdict

There’s no doubting Sunderland need reinforcements in central defence. The ageing legs of John O’Shea remain the mainstay of the Black Cats rearguard and whilst loanee Tyias Browning has generally impressed, Marc Wilson continues to struggle finding fitness and form.

Clarke-Salter’s ability to play across the back line should prove an asset for Chris Coleman’s preferred defensive system but he may need some muscle alongside him up against the more physical strikers in certain Championship sides.