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North Carolina v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly

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Roker Roundtable: What does the future hold for Sunderland’s Jack Clarke?

As speculation about Premier League interest in the winger continues to swirl, we asked our writers for their thoughts on how things might pan out.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dan Harrison says…

If I were in Clarke’s shoes, I’m sure the allure of having another crack at the Premier League sooner rather than later would probably be at the forefront of my mind.

That said, I feel that he’s found a ‘home’ of sorts since joining Sunderland. Through his demeanour both on and off the field, it’s clear he’s enjoying his football and that’s something he won’t take for granted, given how his time at Tottenham unfolded.

In terms of an asking price, I think our valuation of £15 million is fair, but certainly on the lower side.

Given the pedigree of transfers such as Jarrod Bowen & Said Benrahma in recent seasons for fees upwards of £20 million, I think Kristjaan Speakman will be starting the bidding at £15 million and not ending it there.

I’d love to keep Clarke around for at least one more season to potentially give him the opportunity to make it with Sunderland, and I think it’ll do wonders for his development, but I wouldn’t be frustrated to see him leave the club before the deadline.

I can’t have any frustrations at a potential exit and if he does decide to leave, I can only wish him the best for the future, with no doubts that he’ll flourish at the highest level.

North Carolina v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Ewan Bowman says…

I firmly believe he’ll be a Sunderland player at the end of the transfer window. We hold all the cards, especially with a player who has three years left on his contract.

Clarke’s agent came out a few weeks ago and stated that he was very happy at Sunderland, and why shouldn’t he be? He’s playing the best football of his career, Tony Mowbray trusts him and he’s one of the first names on the team sheet.

He scored nine goals and contributed twelve assists in the Championship last season, and the challenge for Clarke should be to comfortably hit double figures in both goals and assists in 2023/2024.

If I were Sunderland, I’d be holding out for a minimum of £20 million for him.

People might think that’s steep, but with players such as James Trafford going to Burnley for £19 million without having kicked a ball in the Championship, Sunderland can put a such a price on Clarke’s head.

No disrespect to Burnley, but what does he achieve by going there? They’ll be in a relegation battle this season and he won’t be playing in a team who dominate the ball like they did last season.

I would be saying to Clarke, “You’ll be a Premier League player one day, so let’s go one step further this season and get promoted. If we don’t, we can evaluate the situation again next summer, and you’ve got the ability to be aiming higher than a team like Burnley.”

It’s crucial that we keep Clarke if we want to have a chance of promotion, as finding a replacement would be extremely difficult.

Malc Dugdale says…

I’m pretty confident that Clarke will run out against Ipswich in our first fixture, and that he’ll be a Sunderland player for the entirety of the season, at least.

He’s somewhere that he can call home after his time at Spurs and Leeds didn’t really work out as he might’ve hoped. We love him and we get a feeling that he loves us too, which further cements the bond between fan and player.

I think that being part of what we’re building at Sunderland and being one of the first names on the team sheet will be major factors in him staying put for at least one more season.

Yes, Burnley seem interested, but he seems very settled and would likely struggle to get into a Premier League side, especially one who dominated the Championship last season. They’ll have established players from last season along with new signings for Clarke to have to compete with.

I’d be surprised if he swaps what he has with us for a bench warming role in a team who may well be back down in the Championship in twelve months’ time, but stranger things have happened.

Staying in the Premier League isn’t easy for any team, but why leave a club you love and who value you immensely to sit on a bench and watch your new team get battered most weeks?

If a club comes in with an offer in excess of £25 million, I do think it’ll be a very difficult decision for Sunderland to make, but it’s one we’d need to think long and hard about.

With fees being inflated thanks to the growing Saudi influence, that sort of offer isn’t out of the question.

From the club’s perspective, they know they can do huge things with that sort of money, but if Clarke has another season with us and plays as well, he could be worth twice that or more in a year’s time, especially if we return to the playoffs and get back up to the top flight at the second time of asking.

We need to make it clear to Clarke that he’s part of the future of the club, which he should be aware of, given the length of his present contract.

He’s a young lad who is very talented and who we can build a team around, as well as a player I’m confident can operate at the top level when we get there.

I’d say, “Be patient, Jack. We’re going places very soon and you’re very much part of why and how that will happen.”

South Shields v Sunderland Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Michael Dunne says…

For me, it feels like an inevitability that we’re going to lose Clarke.

Burnley seem to be coming back with higher offers as they look to find a price that we’ll accept. From that, it seems they’ve been encouraged in some way that a deal could possibly be struck.

I think Clarke will probably play in our opening few fixtures but will be sold before the end of the transfer window, and I think that Burnley will end up coughing up the necessary money if they really want him.

It’s easy to understand why he’d want to play Premier League football, but I’m sure the argument is that if you’re at Sunderland, you could get us promoted this season and play in the top flight at a club with one of the biggest fanbases in the division.

If I were him, I’d stay for another season, try to help the club get promoted and revisit it next summer. There’s no real rush given his age and clear talent, and he’s only begun to play regular football, but I think the lure of the top flight may be too tempting.


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