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Stoke City move would be a step backwards for QPR player amid Premier League interest

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Jake Clarke-Salter could well be on the move this summer, but he would be better off remaining with QPR than joining Stoke City.

HIGHLIGHTS

  •  Jake Clarke-Salter’s standout season has put him in demand, with Stoke City among the interested parties.
  •  The defender’s future at QPR is uncertain as Premier League clubs show interest in his talents.
  •  Moving to Stoke may not be a step forward for Clarke-Salter’s career, he should aim higher for his next move.

 

Jake Clarke-Salter already looks likely to be in demand this summer, with plenty of talk circling about the Queens Park Rangers defender’s future ahead of the summer after he helped maintain their Championship status.

Following his arrival in late October, and after a poor start to the season under Gareth Ainsworth when they looked one of the favourites for relegation, Marti Cifuentes’ side turned things around, and the future looks bright at Loftus Road with Cifuentes at the helm, but they could go into next season without their best defender.

The former Chelsea man was a rock at the heart of defence as Cifuentes steered his side to Championship safety this season, with 33 appearances over the course of the campaign. His stock has never been higher, and he has the opportunity to make a big move this summer at a major juncture in his career. The 26-year-old still has two years left on his deal, but has been one of the best players under Cifuentes.

Clarke-Salter has performed so well that he will either be hoping to further cement his place as a regular starter under the new manager through 2024 and into next season, or seek a move to a higher level as he enters the prime years of his footballing career. The standard of his performances, as well as his assuredness and composure in possession have seen him gather plenty of interest heading into the summer.

Stoke City’s interest in Jake Clarke-Salter

Jake Clarke-Salter v Romania

According to Daily Telegraph reporter John Percy, Rangers are holding out for a fee between £5-7 million for their prized asset, as the likes of Burnley and Wolves sniff around. Premier League clubs may well be interested in bringing Clarke-Salter in this summer, as well as Scottish giants Celtic, but Percy also revealed that Stoke City also have hopes of tempting the defender to the club during the off-season.

With two years remaining on his deal, QPR are primed to make a generous return on the defender should they sell him this summer and QPR, like Stoke, are looking to push on next season after struggling towards the bottom half of the table, with both sides ending the 2023/24 well in the end under both Cifuentes and Steven Schumacher.

Clarke-Salter may recognise that, where he currently plays, as the 26-year-old’s top drawer displays helped his side have the second-best defensive record in the league behind Leeds United since their new boss’ appointment in October, is the best place for him. They have a foundation to build on next season, albeit both clubs will harbour ambitions to be much closer towards the play-off places next term.

 

A sideways step for Clarke-Salter

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It could be argued that Stoke isn’t just a sideways move for Clarke-Salter, but a small step back in his career, where a move to the Staffordshire outfit would not be a material improvement on his current situation, other than perhaps in wage terms.

Since Schumacher’s appointment in December, his Stoke side picked up 33 points in 24 games; meanwhile, Cifuentes collected 36 in that same time frame, with the pair finishing side-by-side in the final standings.

 

Final Championship standings 2023/24
Team P GD Pts
17 Stoke City 46 -11 56
18 QPR 46 -11 56
19 Blackburn Rovers 46 -14 53
20 Sheffield Wednesday 46 -24 53
21 Plymouth Argyle 46 -11 51
22 Birmingham City (R) 46 -15 50
23 Huddersfield Town (R) 46 -29 45
24 Rotherham United (R) 46 -52 27

 

Clarke-Salter either needs to move to a top-end Championship side, be that a recently relegated team aiming to gain promotion at the first time of asking, or one who ends up just missing out this season. Alternatively, the Premier League could be the next step, given the consistent quality of his performances, whilst also being accomplished on the ball and left-footed – with such profiles being at a premium.

He has the physical and athletic qualities to be a success at top-flight level now, and is in the prime years of his career, meaning his next steps ought to be chosen carefully, as this could be argued as the most important next stage of his career.

It’s unlikely that his future remains in West London with QPR, but a move to Stoke, however ambitious they are, would be the wrong one for someone who has achieved the early potential from his days in the youth setup at Chelsea, where there was plenty of excitement regarding his future.

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