Leeds United have made enquiries over a move for Chelsea centre-half Jake Clarke-Salter, and a report has revealed why the Blues are vulnerable.
The Whites are once again staring down the barrel of relegation. A five-match run that produced 11 points between March 13-April 25 had thrust Leeds towards safety. However, successive defeats since then, combined with Everton and Burnley’s respective revivals has Leeds once again looking over their shoulder.
Very little has gone to plan at Elland Road this season. Marcelo Bielsa was revered in West Yorkshire, though that wasn’t enough to retain his job when results and morale went south mid-season.
Injuries have deprived them of several of their key players this year. Kalvin Phillips has missed significant time, while Patrick Bamford has made just nine league appearances.
His absence has stifled their attacking prowess, though the biggest issue has arguably been their sieve-like defence.
After 35 matches, Leeds’ goals against tally stands at 74. That is just one better than already-relegated Norwich City.
Whether Leeds retain their top flight status in the coming weeks, only time will tell. However, it stands to reason shoring up their defence will be a summer priority – regardless of which league they’re in.
As such, the Sun report Leeds are sizing up a raid for Chelsea centre-back, Jake Clarke-Salter.
Chelsea racing against the clock
The 24-year-old is in the midst of his sixth loan spell away from Stamford Bridge this season. He is currently on loan at Coventry City where by all accounts, he has impressed.
He will return to Chelsea this summer, though his contract status could ensure that stay is a short one.
Indeed, his current deal is due to expire this summer, though Chelsea do have an option for a further 12 months.
However, the Sun report that due to their off-field sanctions, they are currently unable to trigger it. Until the new owners are in place, that situation will remain the same.
The takeover bid led by Todd Boehly has been greenlit and could be completed by late May. However, any delays would see Clarke-Salter officially become a free agent before the clause can be activated.
As such, Leeds – along with Coventry, Sheffield United, PSV Eindhoven and Club Brugge – are all plotting a move. Leeds and Sheffield Utd are both stated to have already made enquiries.
A free agent acquisition would be the biggest bargain, though it’s hinted a transfer could still be made if Chelsea do activate his extension in time.
How would Jesse Marsch utilise Clarke-Salter?
Leeds have plenty of options at centre-back at present, though many are prone to injury.
Diego Llorente and Robin Koch have both spent a worrying amount of time sidelined since arriving. Liam Cooper had performed well since returning from a hamstring injury, though a knee injury has ruled him out of Leeds’ last two.
Pascal Struijk is also on the books, and as a left-footer, Clarke-Salter would likely provide competition with him and Cooper if signed.
His potential status as a free agent makes him an attractive prospect. However, his lack of top flight experience may be a concern.
As such, he would appear to make more sense as a signing if Leeds were to go down. He has shown this season he can handle the best forwards the Championship has to offer.