The game-changing Crystal Palace signing that would help ease Wilfried Zaha exit woes

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Crystal Palace will look to push on after surviving a relegation this season, and an ideal signing looks to be under consideration.

Let me preface this by saying that I do not want Crystal Palace to sign Jack Clarke. Like, really, truly, properly don’t want them to. Then again, that’s probably why they should.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a Sunderland fan. A pretty impartial one, I like to think, but a Sunderland fan nonetheless. It therefore fills the pit of my stomach with a form of utter dread, like murky rainwater seeping into a disused mineshaft, to hear that a player of Clarke’s ilk is being touted for a Premier League transfer this summer.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

According to Fabrizio Romano, the wiry winger is attracting interest from a number of top flight clubs, with Burnley, Brentford, and Palace having all reportedly submitted bids for him. For their part, Sunderland are understood to be scrambling to tie him down to a new deal in an effort to ward off any looming advances. It’s enough to make you feel a little bit queasy, truth be told.

Clarke scored 11 times for Sunderland last season to help Tony Mowbray's side reach the Championship play-offsClarke scored 11 times for Sunderland last season to help Tony Mowbray's side reach the Championship play-offs
Clarke scored 11 times for Sunderland last season to help Tony Mowbray's side reach the Championship play-offs

Clarke, you see, has really hit his stride in the North East over the past 12 months. After impressing for boyhood club Leeds United and enduring a sluggish false start at Tottenham Hotspur, the 22-year-old has finally settled at the Stadium of Light, and both he and the Black Cats are reaping the rewards. Across 50 games in all competitions last season, Clarke registered 11 goals and 13 assists, but even those figures don’t tell the full story of his impact.

The wide man has established himself as a vital component in Tony Mowbray’s free-flowing gang of kindergarten sorcerers, capable of carrying the ball over vast distances with his slender gait - at once both gangly and elegant - and more than content to stand a defender up before systematically unpicking the gilded threads of their self-esteem with a nonchalant drop of his shoulder and a sudden flash of his creative wit. Nobody in Sunderland’s squad made more key passes per 90 minutes than Clarke last season, and only Patrick Roberts recorded more successful dribbles. At his best, he is mesmeric, and his best is being produced ever more frequently.

As for Palace, they have a proven history when it comes to cherry-picking the finest players from the Championship and allowing them the opportunity to develop and thrive in the Premier League. Look no further than Eberechi Eze, recently called up to the England squad, and Michael Olise, currently being tipped for a move to Paris Saint-Germain. Indeed, if the latter were to leave Selhurst Park for the French capital, it could really necessitate the signing of a player like Clarke this summer - especially if Wilfried Zaha also seeks pastures new, as is expected.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Clarke would be an investment for the future with the requisite talent to make a difference in the present. His directness, unpredictability, and ability to dictate the tempo of an attack from the left flank surely means that he is destined for a crack at the top flight sooner rather than later. It also means that he would be an ideal signing for Palace... as much as it pains me to admit.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.