JOHN KRETLOW - Thursday, December 31, 2009
Reports out of Great Britain have Ricardo Clark garnering interest from English Premier League side Burnley FC and Scottish powerhouse Celtic FC. The American midfielder's contract with Major League Soccer expires December 31st and he is set to move come the January transfer window.
After seven years in MLS, Clark is now keen on seeking a team abroad and, unlike his Houston Dynamo team-mate Stuart Holden, is not considering re-signing with MLS. The 26-year-old midfielder made it clear to the Houston front office via email that he will not return and plans to sign a contract with a European team.
After this summer's Confederations Cup, Clark garnered attention from Serie A side Livorno. The move looked to be done, but talks between both sides lost steam and have not resurfaced since July.
Burnley FC goes into the January transfer window looking to add depth at midfield and forward. 38-year old vice-captain Graham Alexander has been the team's starting defensive midfielder so far this season. Andre Bikey, who normally starts in central defense, has also seen time as additional defensive midfield support when Burnley lines up more conservatively.
Since Bikey will be gone January playing for Cameroon at the African Nations Cup, Clark could see playing time right off the bat. Considering Alexander's age, Burnley might additionally see the American as a long-term fix at defensive midfield.
The English Premier League team has also reportedly expressed interest in signing fellow Houston Dynamo midfielder Stuart Holden. The Scottish-born Dynamo player would, however, bring in a different set of attributes to Burnley FC; while Holden has experience playing more of an attacking role in the midfield, Clark has played exclusively as a defensive midfielder throughout his MLS career.
Also reportedly in the running for Clark's services are legendary Scottish powerhouse Celtic FC. The Celts' 24-year-old Landry N'Guémo, with the team on a yearlong loan from French team AS Nancy, has been the team's normal starter at defensive midfield during the current season, and will also be heading to the African Nations Cup in January. Again, Clark would definitely provide the possibility for a quick fix for Celtic during N'Guémo's absence but will have his hands full once the Cameroonian returns from national team duty.
The Georgia native would join the 42 time Scottish champion and could help them as they try to pull together their second half push for another title. Celtic finds itself trailing bitter rivals Glasgow Rangers by seven points in the standings, with the two teams meeting on Sunday for this season's second installment of the classic Old Firm derby.
Clark won two MLS Cups with Houston and would bring needed defensive bite to either team's midfield. The Dynamo star is recognized as one of MLS' strongest defensive midfielders and as a reward has been a fixture in Bob Bradley's United States National Team since 2007.
Like the other Americans considering moves to Europe, Clark hopes to find a team that will give him playing time from the start in order to stay on Bob Bradley's radar. Considering both teams' need for January help, Clark could make the best out of either situation.