Matt Clarke – Fantasy Football Potential

Brighton have made their first signing of the Summer transfer window and also Graham Potter’s first signing since becoming head coach of the Seagulls. Matt Clarke has joined from Portsmouth for an undisclosed fee on a 4 year deal.

The 22 year old central defender joins as Bruno retired at the end of the 2018/19 season and he will look to make the step up from League one with the Seagulls.

Here’s what Clarke has said about his move from Portsmouth:

“I’m over the moon to be here, these things always take a little bit of time, but I’m delighted that it’s now been done. Everything here is set up for the club to keep progressing and that’s one of the main things which attracted me here. The training ground and stadium are set up to achieve good things and the Premier League is where every footballer wants to be.”

Player History

Clarke started his career at Ipswich, joining their academy, playing in their U-7’s and eventually signing a scholarship with the club in 2013. During 2014-2016, Clarke made a total of 4 appearances, making his debut against Crawley Town where he played Left back.

In July 2015, Clarke had a trial at Portsmouth which resulted in a 6 month loan deal with Pompey. This deal was ultimately extended as a season long loan deal and resulted in Portsmouth signing the defender on a permanent 3 year deal at the end of the 2015/16 season. During the 2015/16 season, Clarke made a total of 29 League two appearances, scoring on 1 occasion; however his season was cut short after he picked up an injury. This injury ruled him out of the first few fixtures of the 2016/17 season; however he did manage to make 33 appearances, once again scoring on the one occasion. During this season, Pompey won League two, which will have been somewhat due to the defensive partnership with Christian Burgesss, as Portsmouth on conceded 40 goals across the 46 matches.

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Across the 2017/18 and 2018/19 League One seasons, Clarke made 88 appearances scoring on 5 occasions and also became the club captain. In total, Clarke made a total of 175 appearances for Portsmouth and was the supporters’ player of the season for both the 2018/19 and 2017/18 campaigns.

Fantasy Football Potential

With Bruno retiring at the end of the 2018/19 season, Graham Potter is now looking to increase the defensive squad depth, but also increase competition, and he has already stated that Clarke’s challenge will be to “compete with our existing centre-halves — an area where we have a lot of competition — and break into our first team.”. Therefore on that basis it is likely that he will be competing against the likes of Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk, Leon Balogun and Dan Burn for a place in the starting XI.

Clarke is likely to be priced between £4.0m and £4.5m, whilst he could be a bargain, it is unknown if he will have a place in the starting XI, so could be one to keep an eye on. That said, Brighton don’t have the worst opening fixtures, with a first 5 of; Watford (A), West Ham (H), Southampton (H), Manchester City (A) and Burnley (H). This isn’t a bad run and there could be some cheap rotation players enabling further investment in premium players, however they did finish 17th last season, so many fantasy managers may be investing with caution.

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