Done Deal: Sunderland key man will be joining Southampton

Southampton remain interested in signing Sunderland winger Jack Clarke, but will have to make a substantial offer for the player, with the Black Cats reluctant to sell.Southampton FC Season Review | Playing Style and Key Players

Clarke enjoyed an impressive 2023/24 season, scoring 15 goals in 40 appearances as the Wearsiders slumped to a 16th place finish. This exceptional campaign has sparked interest from a number of clubs, with the Saints reportedly the most keen suitor currently, while Wolves are also said to have shown interest in the £30 million-rated man.

According to Scott Wilson of the Northern Echo, the south coast side are set to initiate talks over a potential agreement for Clarke, who has two years remaining on his existing deal at the Stadium of Light. New contract negotiations have ‘hit an impasse’ and the wide forward is expected to be allowed to move on for a sufficient offer, although Sunderland’s sporting director, Kristjaan Speakman, has admitted he can offer no guarantees that a deal will materialise.

Emerging through the Leeds United academy, Clarke joined Tottenham in 2019 for a deal in the region of £10 million. The Yorkshire-born man made just four appearances for the north Londoners, and eventually joined Sunderland on a permanent deal in 2022 after a series of unsuccessful loan spells.

In the past two years in the north-east, the 23-year-old has established himself as one of the Championship’s brightest talents, scoring 24 goals in 85 appearances in the division. Last September, he tormented Kyle Walker-Peters has Saints were thrashed 5-0 at the Stadium of Light, while he has been called “unplayable” by former Arsenal player Adrian Clarke

Southampton are understood to be leading the chase to sign the player, who is under contract until 2026. While Sunderland are reluctant to sell one of their most prized assets, a lucrative offer could sway Speakman, and given contract talks have stalled, selling this summer probably represents the final opportunity to extract maximum value.

Winning promotion back to the Premier League in May, Saints boss Russell Martin will be eager to bolster his offensive options in order to give his side the best possible chance of retaining their top flight status next season. The former Norwich City man is understood to have identified Clarke as a priority target, believing the Leeds academy graduate can add the requisite quality needed to compliment the likes of Adam Armstrong, Che Adams and Samuel Edozie.

While adding quality to his existing squad would be the ideal venture for Martin this summer, replacing key stars who are wanted by other clubs may ultimately prove to be the main concern. Inevitably, after a successful promotion push, certain players are attracting interest from top clubs, none more so than Kyle Walker-Peters.

Tottenham are said to be monitoring the full-back, although face competition from Brighton and West Ham for his signature. Martin has reportedly identified Max Aarons as a possible replacement for Walker-Peters, with the Saints actively trying to sign the Bournemouth man.

The Englishman made just 20 Premier League appearances for the Cherries last season while suffering some injury issues, so could be potentially be available for a modest price if Andoni Iraola doesn’t deem the player indispensable.

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