David Sullivan has a chance to shine for West Ham United, after former Leeds striker Noel Whelan backed the east London outfit to sign Burnley’s James Tarkowski next summer.
While speaking with Football Insider, Whelan claimed the Irons will be in a strong position to sign Tarkowski next summer after falling short in efforts to add the England international to David Moyes’ backline in the recent transfer market.
Tarkowski has since revealed in an interview with The Telegraph that he plans to continue rejecting potential new contracts at Turf Moor, as he wishes to take back control from the Clarets after club chiefs rebuffed £30million bids from the Hammers and Leicester City.
The 27-year-old has made it clear that he does not envisage his future being played out in Lancashire as his ambitions remain to play European football, yet the Clarets still put forward a proposed improvement on his £50,000-per-week contract with the deal set to expire in 2022.
“Burnley offered me a contract near the start of last season, which, for me personally, it was nowhere near what I was going to sign, and I think the club understood. And they’ve come back again this year, and still, for me, it’s just not right,” Tarkowski stated.
“Finances do matter, but, at this particular stage, whatever path I take I will get financially rewarded, so the financial side is not even in my thinking at the moment. It’s more about my football.”
Whelan believes Tarkowski’s refusal to sign a new contract will force Burnley to sell the England international next year.
“When you start getting players running down contracts to a year then you start getting worried as a football club,” he said. “Burnley are a football club that really can’t afford to let a player of that quality go on a free transfer.
“I think that will force their hands, that’s a little signal to Burnley as well that if you can’t pay him the wages that he wants then him moving club is imminent. It’s as simple as that.
“You don’t really get too many football players coming out publicly and saying that. He’s obviously made his mind up that he wants out and you know he wants a fresh start and a fresh challenge somewhere and West Ham seem to be the leaders in that race.”
With Tarkowski eager to leave Turf Moor and Burnley at risk of the defender further running down his contract, Whelan is right in that the Clarets may have to bite the bullet and cash-in on the 27-year-old who has been such a vital aspect of Sean Dyche’s plans in recent years.
Tarkowski, who Burnley valued as high as £50m this summer, has started 67 the Clarets’ last 69 Premier League games, with his only absences in that run coming at the start of the current campaign following West Ham and Leicester’s interest.
Sullivan may feel that a deal is more attainable for the Irons with time ticking on Tarkowski’s contract, too, and his determination to play European football is only matched by his desire to regain a spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad having earned the last of his two caps in 2018.
Southgate’s frequent preference to overlook Tarkowski saw the Manchester-born defender state last year, via quotes by talkSPORT: “I am disappointed. I want to be involved. I feel like I’m playing really well, I’m at full fitness levels, playing every minute possible in games and I feel like I’m performing the best I have done for Burnley.”
Tarkowski remains playing at a high level, with the Burnley star averaging 2.0 tackles, 4.0 clearances and 8.0 duels won (2.6 ground, 5.4 aerial) per Premier League game this season, plus 26.6 accurate passes (76%), 0.4 key balls and 1.0 shots, per SofaScore.
Burnley will know Tarkowski will still hold a high value in the transfer market next summer, but also be fully aware of how fast his value will fall the longer he refuses to put pen to paper.