Arsenal defender Harry Clarke signed a new long-term contract with the club this week, after establishing himself with the u23s.

Harry Clarke (Photo via Twitter)
Harry Clarke (Photo via Twitter)

Arsenal announced on Monday that u23 centre-back Harry Clarke signed a new long-term contract with the club this week. Clarke was already on a professional deal, agreeing on professional terms in August 2018, but his good form earned an extension.

Clarke really established himself from February of this year onwards. Whilst he’d done a solid job in midfield for the u18s before that, he ended up in central defence after an injury to Bayli Spencer-Adams.

With Clarke in the side, the u18s kept five clean sheets in their final nine games. They won the Premier League South and the 18-year-old moved up to the u23s.

From August until the end of November, Clarke featured in all 11 u23 league fixtures, starting 10. He only eventually dropped out of the team after picking up a knock, and he’s now back in training.

During that time, Steve Bould’s side didn’t keep as many clean sheets as they would have wanted. Clarke went through a few centre-back partners (Holding, Olowu, Omole, Mavropanos and Medley), so the defence took a while to settle.

All the same, Clarke’s individual performances have been positive. There’s always an adaptation period stepping up to a new age group, but he’s doing well. He shows good leadership qualities on the pitch, he’s solid defensively and comfortable on the ball.

Personally, I’d like to see Clarke getting a chance alongside Mark McGuinness, in the partnership that worked so well for the u18s.

Most of the defenders are back to full fitness, so Bould has some decisions to make when the academy return from their Christmas break.