Leon Clarke handed in a transfer request to Coventry at the previous weekend which has made fans believe his departure is imminent. The question is; to where? The much travelled 28 year old striker has been with Coventry since the start of the season however here is a look into his history;
He began his footballing career in 2003 with Wolves. At the time, Wolves were a Premier League club and Clarke had little involvement with the first team. He made an appearance however in September against Hartlepool United in the League Cup. This was his first team debut for Wolves. He then saw three loan spells over the course of three years take place. His first one was to Kidderminster Harriers. This turned out to be a short loan spell and his return to Wolves was a good one. He ended up scoring an impressive 8 goals in 31 games In his return.
The start of the 05-06 season was a different one for Clarke however, his regular appearances for the first few months became slightly more frequent from the bench. After a difficult period of little game time, he was then farmed out on loan to two clubs; QPR and Plymouth Argyle. He then returned from his loan spell to find himself again as a regular striker and a prominent goalscorer for Wolves.
His time at Wolves came to an end however when 2007 came around as he joined Yorkshire club Sheffield Wednesday. His three year stint at the Owls resulted in 18 goals from 83 games after a £300,000 transfer fee. He did spend more loan spells however when at the Owls, one at Oldham and another at Southend United. Oldham’s introduction of the striker saw him score 3 in 5 however his fantastic stint at Southend saw 8 goals in 16 games averaging a goal every other game.
He eventually in 2010 returned to QPR a few years after his loam spell, this was a tough spell however where he managed no goals in 13 games. This subsequently saw him loaned yet again to Preston North End. He managed 1 goal however in 6 games.
The next season he was at Swindon Town a new club for his travelling career where he managed two appearances. Another loan spell at Chesterfield beckoned for Clarke though. This was to be his best yet. He scored a fantastic return of 9 goals in 14 games provoking some real interest. He left Swindon and got minimal games for the Robins due to a dispute with controversial manager Paulo Di Canio. Di Canio stated he would never play again for them.
He suddenly ended up at Charlton Athletic and went on three more loan spells. One at Crawley with 1 goal in three games, an impressive spell at Scunthorpe with 11 goals in 15 games and then one at Coventry City. He then was signed by the Sky Blues for the 2012/13 season in January scoring 8 goals in 11 matches.
This season Clarke has formed a lethal partnership with his fellow strike partner Callum Wilson. This partnership has seen him hold the crown so far for the top scorer in League 1. His 23 goals so far in 33 games since last season have impressed many. Clarke’s 15 Goals in 22 games this season though have fired Coventry up the League table from the 10 point deduction faced at the start of the season. Now Coventry sit in a positive position and Clarke at 28 in blazing hot form he wants to move elsewhere with his transfer request signalling his intent.
His 14 different club host a range of different record with his recent clubs earning real benefits of catching the striker as his goalscoring intelligence has proved key. With him at his prime and a good age, a move may be on the cards.
A host of Championship and League 1teams are believed to be after him, here are some possibilities;
One of the busiest clubs this window from the Football League are looking to capture Clarke’s signature. With strikers Leigh Griffiths and Kevin Doyle looking highly likely to complete a loan move elsewhere in the coming days, It may be a great time for Clarke to join his old side which he left 7 years ago.
With other new signing Nouha Dicko’s pace and trickery, Clarke’s physical prowess and stature may help to support the young striker. With Clarke’s previously successful partnership with pacey Wilson, who is a similar player to Dicko this could be a lethal combination. Wolves’ promotion push is looking remarkably strong as well which could lead for his route back into the Championship. He will be likely to receive quality service as well from wingers Marc Jacobs and Bakary Sako who may help contribute to the impressive goal tally that Clarke already boasts. Wolves are tipped to be the favourites to land his signature backed at 6/1 odds. They reportedly have had a bid rejected by Coventry already so could the club step up interest to entice Clarke to Molineux?
Ashley Barnes’ departure to Burnley has left a void in the gulls’ strike force. With the Amex stadium needing goals to help cement the play-offs for the second season in a row, Clarke may provide the answer.
His sheer strength and ability to hold the ball up may help to bring Kazenga Lua-Lua into a more attacking role and create opportunities for the talented winger. He may also be able to form an intelligent partnership with striker Leanardo Ulloa who has returned in the past month from injury after scoring 2 goals on his return. His keen eye for a goal and ability to bring the midfield forward as well as his aerial ability may help to earn Brighton a potential promotion even. This could be a likely transfer in the scheme of Brighton’s need of a Goalscoring striker to support Ulloa.
The struggling Championship club could do with a positive lift and the introduction of Clarke may revitalise the mood for the Yorkshire club’s squad. With Barnsley currently sat rock bottom of the Championship, Clarke’s goals may prove pivotal in the Tykes’ survival.
Winger Dale Jennings is an exciting prospect and his pace and skill down the wings may give him an option to find the 6 foot 2 striker. Clarke would also fit nicely in and around the young Jacob Mellis, an impressive young midfielder with a real eye for a goal and assist. He could be a real asset and his attacking intelligence interlinked with Clarke’s finishing expertise may provide a real chance for Barnsley to stay up.
Some other linked clubs include the likes of Reading, Birmingham, Watford and Nottingham Forest. Clarke however with a year and a half left on his contract may potentially leave for a hefty price tag and the interested club would have to be able to afford his fee and wages. He is looking for football of a higher calibre supposedly and if a Championship club comes to sign him, he may take little convincing if the price is right.
My Prediction; Wolves for a fee in the region of £750,000.