Burnley Football Club. Rough. Ready. Rugged. Resilient. The team that Sean Dyche created in his own image was incredibly successful having spent six successive seasons in the Premier League under his tenureship.
But after a decade of service that saw him woven into the very fabric of the walls of Turf Moor, the two parted company and the duo of Mike Jackson and Ben Mee couldn’t keep them up. But as relegation swept over the club like an emotional tsunami, it provided the chance for a great reset.
There were no predetermined expectations for this summer. With no manager and a whole host of players on Premier League wages that needed to leave, it was set to be a turbulent few months in Lancashire. Instead of sticking with what has served them so well over the past ten years, they went for an untested Football League manager in Vincent Kompany.
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After 92 games in charge of Anderlecht, Burnley gave him the chance to return to England and now the revamp to take them back to the Premier League has begun. Led by Head of Recruitment Mark Cullen, the Clarets have embarked on a summer overhaul that has left fellow EFL clubs green with envy.
The sales of Nick Pope to Newcastle and Nathan Collins to Wolves, for a combined fee of £32m, has allowed Burnley to attack this transfer window. With five 30-year-olds leaving upon the expiry of their contract, James Tarkowski joining Everton on a free and Wout Weghorst loaned to Besiktas, this summer has been a freeing one for Burnley.
Maxwel Cornet could still leave with a £17.5m relegation release clause in his contract, but Kompany has already got to work building a squad in his image. The Manchester City links were always going to be a positive factor for Burnley, with defensive duo Taylor Harwood-Bellis and CJ Egan-Riley both joining on loan.
But it's the recruitment away from the obvious City links that has been most impressive. MK Dons star Scott Twine was the most desired player in the Football League this summer having scored 20 goals in 45 League One games last season. There’s not a single Championship club that wouldn’t have loved to sign him this summer but Burnley made an early and decisive £4m move and convinced him to join.
It gave the first impression that there was something changing at Burnley. It’s not as if they have neglected the EFL in their Premier League years, having brought in both Conor Roberts and Collins last summer, but it did signify there was a change of playing style on the horizon.
22-year-old centre-back Luke McNally was brought in for £2m from Oxford United and is hoping to emulate the individual success that his countryman Collins enjoyed at the club. Burnley will be hoping he can turn them a similar level of profit, but first they will reap the benefits of his talents. A ball-player that is comfortable bringing the ball out from the back, this is certainly a Kompany signing, rather than a traditional ‘Burnley’ one.
Josh Cullen, with 20 Ireland caps to his name, joins from Anderlecht as Kompany brings a player he knows so well to Lancashire, while fellow central midfielder Samuel Bastien has joined from Standard Liege. The £3.6m they’ve invested in those two players could pay off big time, as Kompany uses his links and knowledge to his advantage.
Ian Maatsen is set to join on loan from Chelsea as a wing-back after a successful spell on loan at Coventry last season and whatever Kompany and Burnley are doing this summer seems to be working.
They aren’t done yet either. The Clarets are in talks with 19-year-old Anderlecht goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen as they look to fill the Pope void, while they are still keen on Coventry attacking midfielder Callum O’Hare, having had two bids rejected already. The 24-year-old would likely cost north of £10m and would be the biggest investment Burnley make this summer but with him and Twine in the same team, they would be transformed.
This summer, with Kompany at the helm, Burnley have made themselves a huge draw and are able to get to the front of the queue for Premier League loanees and Football League gems. It makes for a potent mix as we approach the start of the Football League season.
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