James Tarkowski: An Undervalued Premier League Talent

The summer of 2022 promises to bring some exciting changes in the world of football transfers. Many clubs, who were previously cautious due to the impact of COVID-19, now seem eager to spend money. Alongside this, several prominent players are becoming free agents, and Europe’s top talents are seeking new opportunities. While the media understandably focuses on players like Sadio Mane, Antonio Rudiger, and Robert Lewandowski potentially changing clubs, there are also lesser-known players who might be available at a bargain.

One such underrated gem in the Premier League is Burnley’s James Tarkowski, and we’ll explore why he deserves more attention in this article.

Update July 3rd, 2022: On July 2nd, 2022, Tarkowski made a move to Everton, signing a four-year contract after being released from Burnley. He made his debut for Everton on August 6th, 2022, in a Premier League match against Chelsea.

Despite Burnley’s struggles and their relegation in the 2021-22 season, their defense was surprisingly robust, conceding fewer goals than some higher-ranked teams, including Manchester United and Leicester City. Their real issues stemmed from their inability to score goals. This defensive strength can be attributed in large part to the outstanding performances of players like Nick Pope, Ben Mee, and, notably, James Tarkowski.

Tarkowski is a defensive stalwart, a natural leader, and a meticulous organizer on the field. His contributions extend beyond just defending; he played a crucial role in Burnley’s long-passing strategy and advancing the ball through the thirds of the pitch. In fact, Tarkowski topped the league charts in combined clearances and blocks, showcasing his defensive prowess.

Now 29 years old, Tarkowski is in high demand, especially with his contract at Burnley coming to an end. Many mid-table Premier League teams have expressed interest in him, with Everton reportedly leading the race.

In a possession-oriented team, Tarkowski could further improve his already impressive 62.5% long pass completion rate. His strength in aerial duels and defensive abilities make him a valuable asset for any Premier League club, even those at the top.

Beyond the statistics, Tarkowski possesses the mental fortitude needed to excel at the highest level. His fearlessness in the defensive third is unmatched, and his positional awareness and defensive intelligence have been crucial during his six-year tenure at Burnley.

Let’s explore four potential destinations for James Tarkowski in the upcoming season:


First, let’s talk about Everton. In the 2022-23 season, they should seriously consider James Tarkowski. Everton needs a strong leader in the center-back position to organize their defense effectively. Sometimes, they’ve played with three defenders to cover up their defensive weaknesses. They even used Seamus Coleman as a right-sided center-back to bring leadership and organization to their defense. However, they clearly need better defensive reinforcements, especially since they conceded 66 goals in the last season, which was the fifth-worst in the league.

Ben Godfrey is a promising sweeper, with speed and awareness, but he lacks a consistent partner to help him develop. Michael Keane tends to rush into challenges, and Yerry Mina struggles with fitness. With Jordan Pickford as the goalkeeper, who’s great at sweeping and long passing, Tarkowski could find a solid partnership like he had with Nick Pope.

Tottenham Hotspur

Next up, we have Tottenham Hotspur. They have several needs in the transfer market, but the top priority should be a center-back. Under the coaching of Antonio Conte, center-backs need to be tactically smart, both in and out of possession. Cristian Romero is expected to be the first choice on the right side of the back three. Still, Tottenham could benefit from an experienced defender like Tarkowski to improve their defense instantly.

The challenge for Tarkowski would be to secure regular playing time, as Romero and Dier might fit Conte’s system better. Moreover, Tarkowski is right-footed, which doesn’t align with Tottenham’s greater need for a left-sided center-back. However, if Tottenham comes calling, it would be hard for Tarkowski to say no.

Newcastle United

Moving on to Newcastle United, they are in dire need of a right-sided center-back this summer. They’ve already signed Dan Burn, a left-footed player, in January. Newcastle should continue their smart transfer strategy by bringing in accomplished Premier League players like Tarkowski, instead of making big-money signings that could lead to financial penalties.

Tarkowski could quickly adapt to Newcastle’s style of playing long passes from the back, targeting players like Chris Wood, whom he played with at Burnley, and the tricky Allan Saint-Maximin. He would also provide leadership, replacing club captain Jamaal Lascelles. After missing out on Diego Carlos to Aston Villa, Newcastle could make a wise move by acquiring Tarkowski.

West Ham United

Lastly, let’s talk about West Ham United. There has been speculation about Tarkowski moving to East London in 2022. West Ham has been consistent and solid in recent years, aiming for another European adventure next season. To maintain their high standards, they need competition for places, and Tarkowski’s professionalism and sharp anticipation would fit well into David Moyes’ plans.

At 29 years old, Tarkowski embodies the strong, aerially dominant style that defines West Ham under Moyes. He could improve their defense, particularly when considering that Craig Dawson is getting older and Angelo Ogbonna has faced injuries. Tarkowski, on the other hand, is entering his prime years as a center-back and could leave his mark in the Premier League. West Ham would be an ideal place for him to do just that.


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