Comment: Have we seen the last of Pompey's prized asset?

Matt Clarke's star continues to rise at the end of an outstanding season.

Monday, 7th May 2018, 2:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 5:38 pm
Matt Clarke on a lap of appreciation around Fratton Park following Saturday's win against Peterborough

The defender was quite rightly named The News/Sports Mail Pompey player of the season, before delivering a typically dominant final-day performance against Peterborough.

The 21-year-old racked up 57 per cent of the overall vote, with Brett Pitman his nearest rival with 23 per cent of the total.

The Blues have seen a number of the recipients of The News award move on after picking up the coveted title in recent years.

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Last year’s winner, Enda Stevens, joined Sheffield United weeks after his success. The same for Jed Wallace in 2015, as he went to Wolves.

Michael Doyle hung around for a season after being recognised in 2016, while Ricky Holmes was gone six months after taking the 2014 title.

We now wait to see what lies ahead for Matt Clarke this summer, but it would no surprise to see him follow in the footsteps of his recent predecessors.

The list of suitors from the Championship and Premier League are well established.

And it was refreshing to see Clarke’s honesty applauded by fans last week, when he stated he was not prepared to make promises he can’t keep over his future.

After extending his agreement until the summer of 2020 this season, Pompey could cash in their prized asset for a fairly lucrative sum right now.

That figure would depreciate markedly if they were to wait until this time next year, with injuries and form all then coming into play over his market value.

Of course, any figure netted for the former Ipswich man could be key in allowing Kenny Jackett extra room to work with his summer transfer work.

It’s an approach utilised by Paul Cook when Adam Webster departed for Ipswich. And, going back further, Peter Crouch joining Aston Villa helped Harry Redknapp assemble his title winner who reached the Premier League in 2003.

Of course, Clarke is not the only player whose future is subject to speculation. It looked like a goodbye from Kal Naismith, as he gave his recognition to all sides of Fratton Park, when Jackett withdrew him with 13 minutes remaining of Saturday’s win.

That is set to be confirmed shortly when Pompey announce the retained list of players for next season, and eight members of the first-team squad seeing their contracts at a close.

There is also the seven players who have been on loan this term.

Stephen Henderson, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Sylvain Deslandes, Anton Walkes, Stuart O’Keefe, Connor Ronan and Matty Kennedy are those who will now return to their parent clubs.

Of those, it appears Walkes is favoured by Jackett for a return next season. We await to see what happens to the others, but the feeling is we could have also seen the last of many of them in a blue shirt, too.