WITH the 2015 summer transfer window closing hours ago, Jordan Eyre reviews Burnley’s transfer dealings…
It has been an interesting summer in the claret corner of East Lancashire, with over £10m – a vast sum given Burnley’s frugal spending record – being spent on as many as nine new faces, brought into the club at first-team level, while there has also been moves to bolster the club’s development squad.
Originally, Burnley seemed set for a quiet summer, but players have gradually become available that met manager Sean Dyche’s criteria for a hard-working, hungry squad and the club bears a different feel to the one that finished last season.
There have been foreign imports (Jelle Vossen, Rouwen Hennings), young signings (Chris Long, Tendayi Darikwa) and Premier League experience (Matthew Lowton, Joey Barton) brought in to supplement an already-existing talented side.
By contrast, 12 players have left the club, including star turns Kieran Trippier, Danny Ings and Jason Shackell, while Vossen’s spell at the club lasted a mere eight weeks – the striker cited personal reasons for his recent shock departure back to his native Belgium.
The headline news from the summer has been the arrival of Brentford striker Andre Gray, however. Joining for a club record fee of around £6m (contrary to reports of a £9m fee), Gray bolsters a wealth of attacking options with directness and power and most importantly, an eye for goal.
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) August 21, 2015
TIMELINE: An interactive look at Burnley’s transfer dealings this summer…
What will the new signings bring to Burnley?
Matthew Lowton: Identified as the player to fill Kieran Trippier’s boots, Lowton joined having spent much of last season kicking his heels on the Aston Villa bench.
At the age of 26, the right-back was keen to secure first-team football and joined the Turf Moor outfit on a three-year deal.
Lowton offers a threat from defence, making well-timed runs from the back and providing a cutting delivery. Offers an occasional goal threat courtesy of his trusted right foot, as Stoke City found out three years ago.
The former Sheffield United defender is also strong defensively and reads the game well. Lowton has yet to make a competitive appearance due to an injury sustained in training, but should he gain a first-team place, he will look to make it his own as he approaches the prime of his career.
Jelle Vossen: The Belgian striker enjoyed a productive loan spell at Middlesbrough last season, and did enough to persuade Dyche to part with over £2m for the Genk forward.
Vossen is capable of playing as an ‘out-and-out’ striker, or a deeper frontman. He described this as role as a ‘nine and a half; playing somewhere between the two’.
Comfortable playing on his own or in a partnership, Vossen is happy to drop deep to pick up the ball and bring others into play.
However, the Belgian made just a handful of appearances for the club before announcing he was to return back to his homeland to sign for Club Brugge. Vossen claimed he had been unable to settle in the area, and the news came as a surprise to fans who were hopeful of seeing the frontman flourish.
Chris Long: The young striker was keen to leave Everton for a new opportunity and arrived at Burnley with a glowing reputation – many at Goodison Park were sad to see Long leave for pastures new.
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) July 28, 2015
But the 20-year-old will have little room for sentiment as he seeks a chance at Championship level, which he experienced with Brentford during a loan spell last term. Four goals in 12 games suggests that further development and more game time will only contribute to a more positive ratio.
The former Toffees striker described himself as a direct runner with the ball and a smart finisher. Like Lowton, Long has yet to appear competitively but if his strong showings for the development squad continue, it won’t be long until he is in first-team contention.
Tendayi Darikwa: With the then-Chesterfield right-back already a target for the club, it took an impressive 90-minute display against the Clarets in pre-season for Dyche to be persuaded to turn his interest into something more concrete, as Darikwa arrived on a three-year deal.
Capable of playing further up the right as a winger, the pacy defender has been an ever present for the club so far this season and has been one of the early standout performers. Many Clarets have noted Darikwa’s attitude, a refusal to give up on seemingly lost causes and his admirable work-rate.
The former Spireite also has an accurate delivery – he registered the club’s first assist of the season in a 1-1 draw with Leeds United on the opening day. And on the evidence given so far, Darikwa will be hard to dislodge from the right-back berth.
Rouwen Hennings: Little was known about the German hotshot before his arrival in England, but the former Karlsruher man boasts a strong CV, having scored goals wherever he’s plied his trade.
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) August 14, 2015
Hennings was touted as a target for several clubs before arriving in East Lancashire, and has already shown glimpses of quality during his fleeting Burnley career. The German has a thunderous strike which was put to devastating effect last season in the 2. Bundesliga, where he notched 17 goals.
Hennings accelerates sharply over short distances, bursting into the channels or into the area when given the opportunity. Once he establishes strong rapports with each of his prospective strike partners, the former Hamburg youngster could well replicate his goalscoring exploits on English soil.
Andre Gray: The fourth and final striker through the door at Turf Moor this summer, Gray arrives for a club record fee, with Burnley doubling their previous record outlay to land the former Brentford striker for £6m in the middle of August.
Gray’s rise through the divisions evokes memories of his Claret predecessors Charlie Austin and Danny Ings, who both spent time at non-league level before firing their respective ways to the Premier League.
With an ideal physique for a predatory finisher – strong and tall, as well as blisteringly quick and intelligent in his movement – Gray provides an alternative to the club’s other attacking options, as he seeks to better his 16 goal haul of last season at Griffin Park.
Joey Barton: It would not be hyperbolic to suggest that such a signing could not have been possible two years ago. Barton is the most high profile arrival of the summer for Burnley, dropping back down to the Championship after rejecting the advances of an unnamed Premier League side.
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) August 27, 2015
Barton adds bite and intelligence to a central midfield department that has been robbed of numbers, with Dean Marney and Fredrik Ulvestad making limited appearances between them this calendar year. One of football’s stronger personalities will look to do more than just make up the numbers, however.
Having seemingly mellowed in recent years, Burnley can look forward to a more erudite midfielder, knowing when to drive forward or to help protect the defence. Barton will supplement any of the club’s midfielders with his crisp passing, something that will delight both manager and supporters.
Have Burnley had a successful window?
The short answer is yes. The three departures of Kieran Trippier, Danny Ings and Jason Shackell left gaping holes in the starting XI, but Dyche and sporting director Frank MacParland have worked to identify key targets, and have shown ruthlessness in securing the services of several quality players.
Where previously the club may have struggled to secure players – through no lack of effort, it must be said – Burnley have now bought well and have a well-rounded squad for the 2015/2016 season.
Some may say that another centre-half and a winger could have been added, but generally the mood around the club seems buoyant with the injection of new blood. The loan window represents a chance of strengthening further, should injuries or a loss of form affect some of the squad.
Overall, the Clarets seem primed for a promotion tilt with a squad befitting of a side looking to fight their way to the Premier League. Expect Burnley to be among the frontrunners in the Championship this season.
By Jordan Eyre