By Matthew Kirby
Last Updated: 22nd July 2019
Burnley went into the 2018/19 season full of hope, with a Europa League campaign in tow, but things didn’t turn out as planned for Sean Dyche’s men.
A 15th place finish and 40 points was a disappointing season – one that saw them flirt with a relegation battle.
Maybe the early trips to Scotland, Turkey and Greece in the Europa League proved a distraction for the Clarets, who don’t have the biggest of squads to call upon with the quick turnaround of fixtures.
With no European games in sight, Burnley will be looking for a better start than 12 months ago when they took two wins from their opening 15 league games. Dyche is a hard taskmaster and will have his players well-drilled ahead of the upcoming campaign.
But with Leicester and Wolves spending big money, plus the likes of West Ham and Watford consistently mid-table, how do they bridge the gap?
Through the door
Burnley aren’t known for being a free-scoring side, so it’s not surprise that Dyche has tapped into the transfer market to recruit a striker.
It may surprise some that they have re-signed Jay Rodriguez from West Brom. However, the 29-year-old returns to Turf Moor as hot property after netting 22 times in the Championship last season.
Rodriguez could work in tandem with Ashley Barnes, and with Chris Wood also on their books, then Dyche does have options with his forward options.
That could inch Matěj Vydra closer to the exit door after the 27-year-old only played 311 minutes in the top-flight last season.
The Clarets have also signed Dutch left-back Erik Pieters from Stoke City for around £1 million. The 30-year-old ends his six-year association with the Potters and will prove a useful addition following the exit of Stephen Ward.
Keeping hold and letting go
There are potential outgoings at Turf Moor, yet these are all likely to be triggered by the domino effect of one player moving elsewhere.
With plenty of speculation over Harry Maguire’s future at Leicester, there is talk that the Foxes could line up James Tarkowski as his replacement.
The 26-year-old, who has starred alongside Ben Mee at the heart of the Burnley defence in recent seasons, has a rumoured £40m price tag by his name.
Despite not having the biggest squad, there is one area Burnley may look to allow one player to leave – and that’s in goal.
Three keepers in Tom Heaton, Nick Pope and Joe Hart aren’t all going to enjoy their time excluded from the matchday squad, so Dyche is likely to allow one to leave.
However, one of them leaving is likely to depend on the transfer merry-go-round whirring into life.
Stoke are 9/4 favourites for the signature of Hart, but that will rely on Jack Butland leaving the club, while there’s talk Aston Villa have Heaton on their radar.