Premier League Brighton hit front of field in race for Portsmouth defender

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Brighton have emerged as front-runners in the chase for Matt Clarke.

Clarke could be set for a move to the Premier League next season, with the Seagulls now strong contenders for the 22-year-old’s signature.

The south-coast outfit are leading the pack for the defender’s signature, but it remains an intense race with a number of clubs registering their interest.

There’s still to be a firm bid received, however, although that is expected to change at the battle for his services quickens.

The likes of Watford, Leeds, Hull and Reading have all been touted as potential destinations for Clarke next term.

Brighton boss Graham Potter sees Pompey’s prized asset as being able to make the jump to the top flight with his new club, though.

Pompey's Matt Clarke. Picture Joe Pepler

Pompey's Matt Clarke. Picture Joe Pepler

Potter is a long-term admirer of Clarke’s potential and is confident on winning the fight for the man who cleaned up on this season’s player-of-the-year honours.

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The former Ostersund manager was keen on taking Clarke to Swansea after arriving at the Welsh club last year.

Potter was at Fratton Park to take in the play-offs clash with Sunderland earlier this month, ahead of his appointment at the Amex Stadium as Chris Hughton’s successor.

New Brighton boss Graham Potter

New Brighton boss Graham Potter

Despite there being just a year remaining on his existing deal, the volume of interest in Clarke places Pompey in a strong position to cash in on their prized asset.

With the Blues under no financial pressure to sell, they can be content to sit back and allow a bidding war to drive up the price for his services.