So there it is. Jack Clarke’s long-running Leeds United exit seems to be coming to a conclusion. He is set to join Tottenham Hotspur in a deal reported to be around £10m with appropriate add-ons.

The deal brings to an end weeks of speculation that ultimately proved to be correct but then it wouldn’t have been a difficult prediction to make, given that it appears to be current owner Andrea Radrizzani’s modus operandi.

Last summer it was the turn of Ronaldo Vieira to set off into the Sampdorian sunset after a season in which he had established himself as a fulcrum of the United midfield. The discontent created by his departure was dampened to a degree by the exceptional form of Kalvin Phillips in the position that many assumed Vieira would inhabit.

But seasoned Leeds supporters are all too aware that the dubious phenomenon of selling the academy’s key produce is not something that Radrizzani brought to the club. Clarke follows a path well-trodden by previous academy graduates.

Back in 2004, one James Milner left crisis-hit Leeds for Newcastle. Now a Champions’ League medallist, Milner’s sale was the first moment that I, as a teenage Leeds supporter, felt the gut-punch that would become familiar in the years to follow.

Developed painstakingly in the academy, Milner had shot into the first team, gleefully toppling Wayne Rooney’s record for the youngest ever Premier League goalscorer. He was exciting, raw, ours. But soon he wasn’t. He left apologetically for Tyneside as we watched in bereft despair.

Fabian Delph, Aaron Lennon and Danny Rose all evaporated from the Leeds ranks almost as soon as they arrived, spirited onto our TV screens in a foreign jersey. As the club began to plummet, the pain became even more acute.

Throughout the lean years the academy remained a beacon of hope for the club. The backlash when Massimo Cellino launched his fiscal attack on the club’s youth wing was telling.

The work done by all the coaches, in particular Neil Redfearn along with the guiding influence of Lucy Ward in her role as head of education and welfare, resulted in a quartet of new stars emerging.

The names Sam Byram, Charlie Taylor, Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook will forever be synonymous with that era. The iconic photograph of all four celebrating a Leeds goal in 2015 still haunts Leeds supporters to this day.

One by one the silver was sold and not replaced. Byram was the first to leave, transferring to West Ham United in January 2016 for £3.5m. He was followed in July by Cook, the youngest and most talented member of the group in July 2016, sold to Bournemouth for a mere £3.6m.

Mowatt departed for £1m to nearby Barnsley the following January, before Charlie Taylor joined Chris Wood at Burnley that summer. In the blink of an eye, the hard work that had gone into getting these players into the first team had proved futile.

Clarke’s move, however, feels different. This no longer feels like short-termism, cashing in on a valuable asset for a quick cash injection.

With Bielsa at the helm, the gap vacated by Vieira in 2018 was filled by a rejuvenated Kalvin Phillips. Clarke’s first team impact last season was a flicker of promise, a flash of temporary genius that for a few glorious weeks had Championship full backs on the turn, hearts beating in trepidation as this precocious youngster spun them in circles.

It didn’t last. The full backs had a word with themselves and started to work out Clarke’s trickery and prey on his inexperience. After the illness he suffered in the game against Middelesbrough, the 18-year-old’s appearances became more fleeting, parachuted into difficult situations where his impact was negligible. By the season’s end, he was back with the U23s and his appearances limited further.

Youth products breaking into the first team is English football’s romantic dream and the natural feeling when they flee the nest is one of pain and longing, but looking past the romance, this has a distinct business-like feel around it.

Footballers in this day and age are freelancers paid to perform by footballing behemoths. The price involved makes this a low-risk prospect for Spurs and the add-ons give the club some form of compensation should his career take off.

Leeds would be wise to invest the fee wisely and the arrival of an exciting winger like Helder Costa would go some way to offsetting the disappointment felt among the fanbase.

For Jack Clarke, he need look no further for a cautionary tale than Sam Byram, back in the Championship with Nottingham Forest after a number of injury-hit seasons with West Ham.

For supporters, our interest in him will be reduced to a fleeting glance when we hear his name on the match commentary through the hazy babble of an evening kick-off in the bar.

We might even raise a wistful smile to what might have been.

For now though, we move on.