James Tarkowski has come from nowhere to establish himself as one of the best central defenders in the Premier League. His performances this season have gone a long way towards Burnley’s seventh places standing in the league, and he must be knocking on the door for an England call up.
His form has seemingly alerted the attention of Arsenal’s scouting network, and a move may be on the cards this summer. Tarkowski has recently signed a new deal with Burnley, meaning a big fee would be required, murmurs are that Arsenal will be willing to pay £30m for him which to me would be enough, but would he be worth the money?
This season, Burnley have shown the ability to match teams on the deck, whilst also sticking to their rigid defensive principals. Sean Dyche is an expert organiser; an old fashioned run, run, run, roll your sleeves up kind of gaffer. This kind of management has seen players like Keane, Mee and Tarkowski reach the height of the potential, giving Burnley a frugal backline.
At Arsenal, Tarkowski would face an entirely different situation. Arsenal are far from organised, and are more reactive than proactive in their defensive approach. If Tarkowski was to come in, he would bring a level headedness to the team, along with the experience of working with a manager who has exceptional knowledge of the defensive side of the game.
This experience could be hugely beneficial to Arsenal, but it could also expose Tarkowski as a player who is punching well above his weight. 12 months ago, no one took any notice of him, and he was second fiddle to Keane and Mee. Since Keane left, he has flourished and Keane has struggled, often being caught out of position in a more attacking team.
When Keane left Burnley, he was an England international and tipped to move to a top four club; regarded as one of the best in the Premier League last year. This year he is a shadow of himself. He looks like a Championship player at times, and there is a worry that Tarkowski could face the same problem if he was to move to Arsenal.
To strengthen their defence, Arsenal need a stellar acquisition, a player who is highly intelligent and experienced at the highest level – someone like Manolas. Both he and Tarkowski would command a similar fee, yet the Greek defender offers much more experience. Tarkowski will bring Premier League proven experience, which would ensure he settled very quickly, but this transfer is still a huge risk for Arsenal to sanction.
Personally we should be aiming to sign both Manolas and Tarkowski, send Rob Holding on loan and sell Chambers. The signing of Tarkowski in particular will annoy Manchester City fans who have also been linked with the signing of the Poland international which makes it even more interesting.