West Ham United must look to revive their failed bid to sign James Tarkowski after Burnley boss Sean Dyche hinted the defender’s head was turned by the transfer speculation this summer.
According to Sky Sports, the Hammers saw an improved bid worth up to £30million snubbed by Burnley as the Clarets were under no pressure to sell their most-prized asset.
West Ham were willing to pay an upfront £20m in order to secure the signature of the two-time England international, or pay £23m with no future add-ons for a player who played every minute of Burnley’s 2019/20 Premier League campaign.
The Irons offer came after seeing an initial bid worth in excess of £20m rebuffed, as boss David Moyes was keen to land the 27-year-old amid hopes of using the £18m raised from Grady Diangana’s sale to strengthen his centre-back options.
Leicester City were also a keen suitor in the hunt for Tarkowski’s services this summer, and likewise saw a £30m bid rejected.
Tarkowski has now put the transfer interest behind him, but Burnley boss Dyche’s comments on the speculation which surrounded the defender’s future suggest his head was turned.
“I didn’t feel he wasn’t fully focused,” Dyche said, via quotes by LancsLive. “It’s tough for players. They have a lot of noise around them, even more so than ever, certainly way more than in my day, although I was no good!
“They’ve got media streams, social media, rumours, conjecture all going on all the time. So it’s more difficult for players now, I believe. But Tarky is a top pro. He always has been since we got him in here.
“I’m sure he’s focused and committed to what’s going on here now. It’s probably helpful to close the window down to clear up any situations that are spinning around on the outside, the noise as I call it.”
With Burnley holding firm in demanding £50m for Tarkowski this summer, West Ham were never a realistic destination for the 27-year-old given the Hammers’ financial situation which made offloading high-earners pivotal to any potential spending.
But the Irons could not find permanent suitors for the likes of Felipe Anderson or Manuel Lanzini, and ultimately had to sell Diangana to raise some funds which were later put toward the capture of Said Benrahma.
If 2021 plays out differently, though, and West Ham are blessed with a greater war chest come the summer, Tarkowski’s situation is one that the Hammers’ ownership of David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady must look to reconsider if the defender’s head was turned by the potential of a move to the London Stadium.
While the start of Tarkowski’s 2020/21 campaign was delayed due to a toe injury, his relentless game time in the previous term ensured he ranked first among all Premier League defenders for clearances (200), aerial duels won (198), second for shots blocked (47), seventh for interceptions (63) and 12th for ground duels won (109), per SofaScore.
It would take a dramatic turn of events for Tarkowski not to similarly impress this season, and make his situation one that clubs like West Ham will explore again with the 27-year-old’s £50,000-per-week contract due to expire in 2022.