JAKE Clarke-Salter has become Michael Beale’s first signing as QPR boss after the defender agreed a four-year deal at Loftus Road.
The 24-year-old defender joins the R’s on a free transfer after leaving Chelsea - a club he has been at since the age of eight - and in doing so is reacquainted with Beale, who coached him in his early years.
During his time at Stamford Bridge, Clarke-Salter enjoyed loan spells with Bristol Rovers in League One and Sunderland in the Championship before joining Vitesse Arnhem in the Dutch top flight for the 2018/19 campaign.
Loans back in the Championship followed for the next three seasons, spending two with Birmingham City and the 2021/22 campaign at Coventry City.
This move to QPR represents Clarke-Salter’s first permanent switch and he can’t wait to get started in the blue and white hoops.
“I am over the moon,” he said. “It’s a permanent deal and it’s time for me to settle down and progress in my career.
“It’s totally different to a loan move because this is my home and I am fully focused on doing great things with this club.
“This is a big step for me and one I am totally ready for.”
Clarke-Salter, who has represented England at U20 and U21 level, admits the presence of Beale in W12 was a huge draw for him, explaining: “He was my coach from when I was 13 or 14, he knows me, he knows my family and when he called it was a no brainer.”
Despite Beale’s relationship with the centre-back, the R’s boss didn’t leave anything to chance when it came to enticing him to choose QPR over other potential suitors.
“He was really detailed in his plans for me and for the club which caught me by surprise,” Clarke-Salter said.
“I was blown away by what he was saying and I am hoping I can do my part on the pitch now.”
Reflecting on his first signing, Beale said: “I’m delighted that Jake has signed for our club.
“The work behind the scenes to recruit him has been excellent from everyone involved. He is a player that was identified very quickly as one that we feel is a great fit and we are very happy he chose to sign for QPR as he was a player that had a lot of options this summer.”
Beale is now excited to be reunited with Clarke-Salter, adding: “He is a player that I really enjoyed working with, and that relationship and connection we have is a big reason for wanting him here at QPR.”
Clarke-Salter not only brings Championship experience, but also versatility, a trait which is important to the R’s chief.
“Jake is a left-footed defender who is comfortable playing in a back three or a back four,” Beale said.
“He is very comfortable on the ball and likes to step forward to help build the team’s attacks.
“I think he complements the players we have and is a very important addition to our squad.”