Matthew Clarke joined West Bromwich Albion on a season-long loan from Brighton & Hove Albion last summer and was one of the Baggies’ best-performing players this season, so Steve Bruce was keen to turn his move permanent.

Little progress had been made on agreeing terms, however, and Clarke has since returned to Brighton. Steve Madeley of The Athletic says a deal is ‘far from certain’, so it remains to be seen if Bruce will get his man. He is looking at Darragh Lenihan, however, so he might be an alternative to the loanee.

Madeley wrote: ‘Clarke has returned to Brighton at the end of a solid season-long loan. He could be pursued as a permanent target but that is far from certain.’ The 25-year-old has made 33 Championship appearances for West Brom and was called their most consistent player by Bruce.

It would be a smart move to sign Clarke, but West Brom might have to turn their attentions elsewhere if they aren’t getting close to agreeing a deal.

The 6ft 1in man hasn’t made an appearance in his three years at Brighton, so they might want to run the rule over him in pre-season before making a decision on his future – his deal is up in 2023 so he could leave on a free transfer.

Brighton might have to cash in on Clarke this summer if they don’t feel he’ll sign a new deal, otherwise they’ll lose the centre-back for nothing next year.

In other news, Steve Madeley says Cedric Kipre is ‘surplus to requirements’