Sunderland AFC transfers: Lazio return with second Jack Clarke bid with Italian club also targeting Morgan Whittaker

The latest on Lazio's interest in Sunderland winger Jack Clarke during the January transfer window.
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Italian club Lazio have returned with a second bid for Sunderland star Jack Clarke after their initial approach was knocked back, The Echo understands.

The former Leeds United and Tottenham winger has been in scintillating form in the Championship this season, netting 13 goals and chipping in with three assists. Clarke bagged nine goals and 13 assists during last campaign's league campaign - taking his tally over the past two 18 months to 16 assists and 22 goals.

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That form prompted interest from English teams Burnley and West Ham with Vincent Kompany's side bidding for the winger last summer, whilst David Moyes' Hammers took a good look at Clarke during the January window but appear to be prioritising other targets.

Serie A club Lazio came in with a bid for Clarke last week but saw their attempt rebuffed by Sunderland. However, The Echo understands that Le Aquile have returned with a second improved offer. It is also understood that Clarke remains happy on Wearside but does have aspirations to play at a higher level in the near future.

The Black Cats are protected when it comes to Clarke with the player having signed a four-year deal 18 months ago, leaving two-and-a-half years left on his current deal, meaning that Sunderland are in no rush to sell during the January window and holds the upper hand in any negotiations. Clarke's former club Tottenham will be owed 25 per cent of the entire fee if the player is sold by Sunderland.

Lazio appears to be keen to bring a winger to the club in January and, according to reports, have also approached Championship outfit Plymouth Argyle with an offer for talented attacker Morgan Whittaker, which suggests that a deal for Clarke is not close despite Lazio's multiple bids for the Sunderland man.

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The January transfer window shuts on Thursday at 11pm with Sunderland eyeing additions of their own with sporting director Kristjaan Speakman in the market for a goal-scoring striker and an experienced midfielder as Michael Beale's side prepares to face Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium in the Championship this Sunday.

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