MICHAEL Beale’s previous connection with Jake Clarke-Salter was recognised as a major reason the highly-sought-after defender chose Loftus Road over other suitors following his departure from Chelsea.
Beale has now revealed how excited he is by the arrival of the former England U21 captain, his first signing as R’s gaffer.
“I first met Jake many years ago when he came into Chelsea’s academy,” he explained.
“He was a wide attacker or forward back then - playing alongside Tammy Abraham and Dominic Solanke in the same teams that I coached.
“He had an excellent youth career coming through the academy at Chelsea and as a youth international and former England U21 captain. He has won three FA Youth Cups and the UEFA Youth League in that time.
“He has been around the Chelsea first team and also has excellent experience in the Championship via his previous loans.
“At 24, he has his career ahead of him and I feel that being settled and with a manager that knows him well will give him a great opportunity to fulfil his full potential in the coming years.
“I’m excited to be working with him again.”
Beale says the centre-back’s experience in the Championship will be of huge benefit for Rangers.
“It’s extremely important that he has played in the league before and understands the level and intensity of the division,” he said.
“It’s also important that his qualities are a very strong fit for our club model and the identity of the team moving forwards.
“He is a left-sided defender that is comfortable defending big spaces and also in bringing the ball forward to build attacks. He will give us a strong balance on the left side of our defence for the coming years.”
The switch to W12 is the first permanent move of Clarke-Salter’s career after being at Stamford Bridge since the age of eight. Beale says this is a significant point.
“I think this is a really positive step for Jake and his family,” Beale explained. “He has been moving around on loan for the past few seasons both in the Championship but also over in Holland.
“It’s hard for a player to feel settled inside an environment and changing room when they are moving each year to a new club, city and team.
“Therefore, I know this was an important decision for Jake and his family.”
Beale discussed his plans for the future with Clarke-Salter at great length, with the player admitting he was “blown away” by the level of detail the R’s chief went into.
“The time I spent with him discussing his future development and our club was key in that decision process,” Beale said.
“He is excited to be joining our club and has full clarity on his role moving forwards and the aims for the team.”
Beale says the R’s supporters have every right to be excited by the arrival of the former Coventry and Birmingham loanee, adding: “The fans should be very pleased with this signing.
“We had a lot of competition to recruit Jake, but from the initial conversations it was clear he knew a lot about our team and was excited to join QPR.”