Revealed! Why Jake Clarke-Salter chose Sunderland over rivals, what he'll bring and how he fits into system
Jake Clarke-Salter is something of an unknown to Sunderland fans after his loan move to Wearside was completed yesterday.
The 20-year-old joined from Chelsea until the end of the season, but what do we know about the defender? We take a look at the World Cup-winner.
What will Clarke-Salter bring to Wearside?
How he will fare in the heat of a Championship remains to be seen but he has long been seen as a potential leader in the ranks at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea's youth sides have been the best in the country for years now and Clarke-Salter has been part of three FA Youth Cup winning sides. He will be well drilled in bringing the ball out from the back and in that sense can hopefully add a bit of composure that has been lacking in Coleman's tenure so far. Indeed, the player said on signing: "I see myself as a ball-playing defender, I’m comfy on the ball but I’ll work hard for the team. I just can’t wait to play."
What about that inexperience? Will that hold him back?
Clarke-Salter made his first-team debut at the end of the 2015/16 season as a second-half substitute against Aston Villa and has just 20 minutes of action under his belt this season, coming on in the EFL Cup game against Nottingham Forest in September. He spent last season on loan at Bristol Rovers, making just 13 appearances and scoring once. However, you would hope big occasions won't faze him too much after he played in the Under-20 World Cup Final as England beat Venezuela 1-0 (though he did concede a penalty in that game which was saved by Newcastle goalkeeper Freddie Woodman).
How will he fit in to Sunderland's style of play?
Coleman is a big fan of playing three at the back, with wing-backs providing the width. It's a system he installed to great success with Wales and has implemented it in games with Sunderland since he arrived. Clarke-Salter's signing suggests that Coleman does indeed see three at the back as the formation to stick with as his tenure develops. Adam Matthews and Bryan Oviedo have shown promise in the wing-back areas while further forward, wingers Aiden McGeady and Callum McManaman have struggled. Even when they have played, they have been pushed infield to accommodate for the strengthened defence.
Bolstering his centre-back options reduces the need for the likes of Matthews or Billy Jones to stand in when injuries strike, and crucially, adds some more mobility to a back-line that has been sluggish in the extreme at times. Now, Coleman can field two youthful options either side of John O'Shea or Marc Wilson.
Why has Clarke-Salter chosen Sunderland?
Coleman has been speaking to Chelsea for a while about taking some of their highly-rated youngsters on loan. The Sunderland boss knows Ethan Ampadu very well, having handed the teenager his Wales debut against France. Ironically, Ampadu's emergence has opened the door for Coleman to move for Clarke-Salter to move out and get some first-team experience.
Clarke-Salter had been linked with a number of Championship clubs in the summer, but Antonio Conte opted to hold on to him and made him a member of the first-team squad, giving him the No 35 jersey. Nottingham Forest had reportedly lined up a move for him this month but it is Coleman's connections, forged during his time as Wales boss, which has helped push through the move. Coleman's reputation developing, as well as protecting, young talent will hopefully continue to work in his favour as he convinces top clubs to send their talent to Wearside.
What have people had to say about him?
Former Chelsea captain John Terry spoke highly about the youngster after Clarke-Salter made his Blues debut against Villa. He said: "Jake has a great attitude. I remember watching him a couple of years ago being in control of the game and a really vocal player. He reminds me a bit of myself."