Jack Clarke transfer and contract update after latest Sunderland negotiations and West Ham interest
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Sunderland's contract talks with star man Jack Clarke remain at an impasse amid transfer speculation this window, The Echo understands.
Clarke signed a four-year deal with Sunderland back in 2022 following a successful loan stint, which means the attacker has two-and-a-half years left on his current contract, a situation leaving the Black Cats with some security.
However, the player's stellar performances this season and last have pushed talk of a new contract higher up the agenda and created transfer interest from Premier League clubs and teams in Europe. West Ham have been heavily linked with a move after Burnley had several bids rejected last summer.
There is also understood to be interest in Clarke from France, Germany and other Premier League teams. Despite this, though, it is expected that the player will stay put in January given Sunderland's strong contractual position.
It is a possibility, though, that a big-money bid could force Sunderland's hand during the current window. Though, this scenario would be extremely hard to justify given Sunderland's over-reliance on Clarke for goals this season. To take the winger out of Michael Beale's team at this point would signal season suicide in the minds of supporters.
The Echo understands that Sunderland and Clarke remain some way off in their negotiations in terms of the player's weekly wage, which was always likely to be the case once teams in the top flight started showing an interest. It is a cold hard fact that Premier League clubs can better anything Sunderland have offered so far.
Sources have told The Echo that Clarke is happy at Sunderland and enjoying his football whilst insisting the player will not force a move during the January transfer window but that representatives are aware of his value and are highly unlikely to bring their wage demands down. The flip side to that is that Sunderland are also highly unlikely to up their wage offer given their present structure.
This gridlock has caused some frustration given Sunderland have handed out new and improved higher wages to other players. But there are other issues to consider aside from wages.
Sunderland and Clarke's representatives are also some way apart when it comes to a buy-out clause, which have become commonplace in modern day football contract negotiations. Sunderland would prefer the buy-out clause to be a higher figure, whereas Clarke's camp would prefer that fee to be slightly lower.
At present, it is understood that there is no buy-out clause active in Clarke's current contract. Clarke signed for Sunderland for a fee of around £750k to £800k from Tottenham with a large portion of any future fee owed to Spurs. That fee, you would think, will have to be a large one given that Clarke is developing into a highly valuable commodity, one who has produced 36 goal contributions in 74 league appearances since Sunderland's return to the Championship 18 months ago.
The Echo understands that the relationship between Sunderland's sporting director Kristjaan Speakman and Clarke’s camp remains cordial and is by no means damaged beyond repair despite the impasse. Indeed, there is some hope that a deal can be agreed but that would involve Sunderland breaking with the model to hand Clarke a contract on Premier League wages or close to it.