James Copley: Sunderland star Jack Clarke is proving consistency doubters wrong - but he isn’t worth £10m
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It wasn't so long ago that Jack Clarke had "winger's syndrome" and was accused of being "too inconsistent".
I have to confess that I also wondered to myself whether Sunderland and Clarke would be the right fit as I observed him in May, 2022 signing autographs for fans outside of the Stadium of Light.
This was before Sunderland's crunch clash against Sheffield Wednesday in the League One play-off semi-final first-leg. He looked young, slight and too relaxed for my liking.
Darren Moore's side were a physical, street-smart team full of confidence. It was a 50-50 tie. Is Clarke really up for the fight and does he realise how important this game is? I wondered to myself.
Fast forward 18 months and I am sat here about to write about his prodigious skill and how Sunderland cannot afford to lose him. Football has a habit of making fools of us all.
A week or so later, Clarke made a mockery of my thought process as he set up Patrick Roberts' iconic goal at Hillsborough to make 2-1 on aggregate with a superb jinking tip-toe down the left-wing
I am eternally grateful that I had the foresight not to vocalise my initial thoughts on Clarke to social media as they would have aged like old milk - even admitting them here is cause for embarrassment.
After Sunderland's promotion, though, doubts still lingered about Clarke's consistency but he answered those naysayers with 21-goal contributions (nine goals and 12 assists) in the Championship last campaign as Sunderland once again reached the play-offs.
An impressive feat given that it was Clarke's attacking colleagues Amad Diallo and Patrick Roberts that became the main focal point of Sunderland's attack - and the subject of the most praise from fans and pundits alike.
Like bees around honey, transfer interest followed during last summer's window with several bids from Burnley rejected by Sunderland. They were, let's be honest, derisory at around £10million.
Now, for the juicy stuff - how much is Jack Clarke actually worth?
You've probably clicked on this article out of sheer curiosity. Surely, nobody in their right mind would write on a public platform that Clarke isn't worth £10million.
Well, I said what I said and stand by it... to Sunderland, in this market, given his recent exploits and profile, Clarke is worth way more.
Clarke was sold by Leeds United to Tottenham Hotspur four years ago in 2019 as an unproven rookie for £10million plus add-ons. He is undoubtedly worth more now having proved himself as one of the best players in the Championship.
It is November and the York-born winger has already matched his goalscoring tally (nine) from last season and also registered another trademark assist for Adil Aouchiche's first Sunderland goal against Birmingham City last weekend.
That's 18 goals scored over one-and-a-quarter seasons plus 13 more laid on for teammates. Throw into the mix that he is still only 22. So, no... Jack Clarke is not worth £10million.
You would think that figure would have to be doubled with another £5million (at the very least) added for good measure, especially given that Tottenham will be owed money from any sale.
But for now, let us enjoy a player who has now developed the consistency to match his colossal talent.