Leeds Academy product Jack Clarke has signed a professional contract with Leeds United today on his 17th birthday.
| After celebrating his 17th birthday, and signing his first professional contract today, we caught up with @JackClarke09 for an exclusive interview— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 23, 2017
Read now ➡️ https://t.co/eqoSjTi52O pic.twitter.com/yHEMvAKWmz
Victor Orta had this to say to the official Leeds United website,
We are pleased with Jack's progress to date and we have rewarded him with a longer term contract.
He will remain a part of the U18 and U23 set up in the immediate future and we will continue to monitor his progress closely.
Our academy is famous for producing some of the best talent in the country and we are confident Jack is just one of many young, local players who can be a part of the future of our club.
Striker signs 1st professional deal— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) November 23, 2017
Happy 17th birthday to Leeds United's Jack Clarke who has signed a senior deal with #lufc until 2021
️⚽️ The club fought off competition from Premier League clubs including Manchester City to keep the Academy forward pic.twitter.com/qK3Ppjc7LJ
The club reportedly signed Clarke despite interest from various Premier League clubs, including Manchester City, as Clarke chose to stay with Leeds over any other offers that he received. The young striker had impressed at both the U18 and U23 levels.
Leeds had made an effort under new owner Andrea Radrizzani to build the club up from the bottom, making a commitment to youth players and the youth system at the club. The club has even entered into talks with the Leeds Council into efforts to start redevelopment of the area around Elland Road in order to build a new training ground and a new, state-of-the-art Academy to replace Thorp Arch, which should help the club realize additional benefits from having a training facility located in the heart of the city.
While buying back of Elland Road was seen as a move to drag the club forward, building up the Academy and making sure to retain the talent that comes up through the Academy is even more important than just buying back some concrete, even if it’s important concrete that Radrizzani bought.
So add Clarke to the list of youth players that have signed contracts with the club, including the recent signing of York City startlet Ryan Edmondson. Good luck Jack, hope to see you banging in goals in a few years at the big club!