It was confirmed on Friday that Arsenal have recalled Harry Clarke from his loan spell at Hibernian, with the expectation being that the defender will now join Stoke City on a temporary basis for the upcoming season.
In January Clarke signed for Hibernian on an initial 18-month loan deal, which included break clauses for both this summer and January 2023. Although an injury delayed his debut for the club, Clarke subsequently impressed and he also managed to get on the scoresheet against St Mirren.
Despite mainly being a centre-back, Clarke also possesses some experience of playing at right-back, while for part of his spell at Hibernian he was deployed as a left wing-back.
Playing in the Championship would be a good test of Clarke’s credentials and would help to provide a better gauge of the level that he is currently at.
Given that he is 21 years old, we are approaching the time where a decision will have to be made regarding Clarke’s long-term future at Arsenal. Breaking into a first-team squad which contains the likes of Ben White, Gabriel and William Saliba is a daunting task, but for now Clarke will be focused on doing the best that he can elsewhere.
Daniel Ballard has done all that he can both out on loan and also on the international stage with Northern Ireland but he is still set to be sold this summer, which proves just how difficult it is for young centre-backs to make the grade at Arsenal.
Signed from Ipswich Town as a schoolboy in 2015 when he was a midfielder, Clarke has developed very well at Arsenal and has also taken in loan spells at Oldham Athletic and Ross County.
Now he looks set for the next step in his development as he looks to push on further.