The genius Sunderland and West Ham swap transfer deal that would hugely benefit both clubs

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The Hammers have been linked with Black Cats winger Jack Clarke in recent weeks.

Let me pose a question to you; would you feel better about having your right arm chopped off if the person wielding the axe gave you a bouquet of roses afterwards? Perhaps, perhaps not. Probably depends on how ergonomic your watering can is.

This month, Sunderland face the very real possibility of having Jack Clarke prised away from them, like a Terry's chocolate orange from the clenched jaws of a stubborn Golden Retriever. In the long term, everybody knows that it is not sustainable for a player of his obvious buoyancy to be languishing in the charged cesspit of the Championship, and yet, the throbbing streak of self-preservation within Mackems everywhere would have him stay on Wearside for an eternity, if such things were possible.

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So far this season, Clarke has scored 13 goals in 27 league outings for the Black Cats - a figure that, despite its dizzying quality, still only really tells half the story. More often than not, when the winger does not perform, Sunderland do not win. Of the 15 away goals his side have registered since the beginning of the campaign, Clarke has netted 11 of them, and no other player in a red and white shirt has struck on the road since September.

Indeed, during the latter days of Tony Mowbray's tenure at the Stadium of Light, one of the most frequent accusations thrown at the affable chocoholic was that he had grown tactically stale, and that beyond ferrying the ball out to the left flank and hoping for the best, Sunderland were bereft of ideas. Since Michael Beale succeeded him in December, very little has changed.

All of this is to say that it is perfectly understandable that Clarke is attracting interest from a bushel of Premier League clubs. According to various frightening reports, West Ham are particularly eager to acquire his services before the end of January, but the Hammers will face stiff competition from the likes of Brentford, Crystal Palace, and a smattering of others besides.

Now, to reiterate, nobody of sound mind and a Mackem persuasion wants Clarke to leave Wearside in the coming fortnight, but there is a creeping sense of inevitability that his departure will happen one way or another, sooner or later. And if Sunderland are to go through the ordeal of having their creative soul ripped out and spray-painted in shades of claret and blue, they might as well try and get something in return.

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At the risk of sounding rote, the Black Cats need a functioning striker. Of the four they currently employ - Jobe Bellingham notwithstanding - three are still yet to score a goal this season, and Nazariy Rusyn, despite looking capable enough in concentrated bursts, can't seem to catch a prolonged break in the starting XI. As such, for many supporters, the addition of a new centre forward is a matter of high priority this month.

One name that has become increasingly prevalent in conversations on the topic is that of Divin Mubama, a 19-year-old prospect who just so happens to be on the books at West Ham. In many respects, he would represent that archetypal Sunderland target under Kristjaan Speakman's recruitment model; a young, precocious product of a Premier League academy system who is conveniently barrelling towards the expiration of his current deal in East London. Similar raids for ex-Hammers Aji Alese and Pierre Ekwah have already proven that such signings can yield impactful results.

With a flurry of first team outings in recent months, and a growing sense that West Ham would ideally prefer to tie him down to a lengthy contract extension if possible, Mubama represents a desirable asset - especially to a club in the upper reaches of the second tier. Speaking about the teenager last season, his manager, David Moyes, said: 'Every time Divin has come on, I tell you what he does, he runs and he does the work and he doesn’t think twice about his effort or anything he does. Because of that, we’re growing to him all of the time.' A player who leads the line with a willing physical presence, and who isn't afraid to stretch a defence with his movement? Be still, my beating red and white heart.

Evidently, Mubama would not be a direct replacement for a departing Clarke. Please don't misconstrue this article and start bombarding my inbox with furious emails about my general ineptitude. I get enough of those as it is. But assuming that any prospective agreement involving the two players would also include a sizeable wedge of cash to bolster the Black Cats' coffers, there surely isn't any harm in trying to get a hugely promising striker thrown into the bargain if and when the wide man bids farewell.

Losing Clarke would be the bitterest pill Sunderland could swallow right now, but at least Mubama would make it just that tiny bit sweeter.

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