In Focus: Arsenal may struggle to persuade Tarkowski to move back down south

According to reports in The Times, Arsenal are considering making a summer swoop for Burnley centre-back James Tarkowski, but they could face competition for his signature from Premier League rivals Manchester City.

What’s the word, then?

Well, The Times says that while Tarkowski is happy at Turf Moor and has been a key part of the team that currently lies sixth in the English top flight standings, an offer from a club in the Champions League next summer could leave him with an important decision – assuming the Clarets don’t finish in the top four, that is.

The Times says the Gunners and City are keeping close tabs on the 25-year-old Mancunian with another homegrown target Jonny Evans set to re-join Manchester United, with a move to the Etihad probably better geographically for the defender.

However, the report suggests that he would be more likely to play regular first-team football at the Emirates, meaning he may have quite the conundrum at the end of the season.

How has Tarkowski done this season?

He has been excellent, and his performances have taken him to the brink of an England call-up, according to The Times.

The 25-year-old has played every minute of Burnley’s season at the heart of Sean Dyche’s side’s defence, helping them keep nine clean sheets in their 18 Premier League fixtures so far.

According to WhoScored.com, the former Brentford man has made 28 successful tackles, 30 interceptions, 145 clearances and 36 blocks in the top flight this term, while he has won 95 of the 132 aerial duels he has faced.

Would he be a good signing for Arsenal?

If Wenger wants to add a homegrown centre-back to his squad, then there is no doubt that Tarkowski would be a good buy.

The 25-year-old is a proper defender who isn’t afraid to put his body on the line for his team, and that is something the Gunners have certainly been missing at times.

With Per Mertesacker retiring at the end of the season the north London outfit need another option in their backline, and Tarkowski may only have a year left on his contract next summer – unless he extends it in the meantime – meaning he could be available for a reasonable fee.

Convincing him to move back down south may be an issue however.