Everton look set to make their first signing of the 2022 summer transfer window, this being the free transfer of 29 year old James Tarkowski from Burnley.
Everton seemed to have got their target in the door early and given Frank Lampard his wish of a new more ‘robust’ centre half for the 22/23 Premier League season. Since early links to Tarkowski, there has been a lot of debate on the social’s on whether this is actually the right signing for the blues at this time, whilst drawing obvious comparisons to the Michael Keane transfer the Toffees made from Burnley back in July 2017. Admittedly at first I had similar feeling of caution on whether I thought this was sensible for Everton or not, was it the right fit? After delving in to the deal, speaking to others & looking in to Tarkowski further, I think this could be the exact signing Everton needed to make ahead of 22/23, here’s why:
A position & personality of need;
Let’s just look at it how it is first & foremost, it’s a centre half, Everton’s defence has been shaky for far too long & someone needed to come in to freshen ideas. Tarkowski is a good level defender, I’ll go in to everything else further down, but Tarkowski is very good at defending his team’s goal, it’s as black & white as that. Blues fans will remember watching him against Everton over the years and thinking the same, watching a lot of Burnley’s games during the relegation run in he was an absolute warrior at the back. On top of this, I think it’s a good personality fit for Everton, a leader at the back who can organise a backline. It’s been exactly what Everton have been screaming out for in Yerry Mina’s absence, Everton need that type of figure back there, and with Mina being such a liability Tarkowski ticks that box.
The finance of the deal;
Talking point of every deal, do Everton get ‘bang for their buck’?
Tarkowski is a free transfer, which obviously aren’t exactly ‘free’ so in this instance we’re playing a game of hypothetical. It’s rumoured Tarkowski will be on 90k a week, so add on top of that a signing on fee of say £2million on a 4 year deal (according to the athletic), the total of that deal over 4 years tally’s to roughly £20.72million all in. In terms of that, I think £20.72million over 4 years is a good price for a very good standard PL centre half, coming off the back of a relegation battle and adding that profile in to our defence could be a difference maker to ensure we’re not in the same situation again come next May. Whilst 4 year deal isn’t ideal, ideally it would be a 2/3 year with a club option to extend by a further year. The wages are always going to jump out to people at that figure, free transfers make it more difficult on that perspective, free agents will always demand this sort of fee as they know the saving you’re making on that deal with not paying the transfer fee, and it’s just how that market works. You see it everywhere, you’ve seen it at Everton as the club enticed Bernard to join on a free by offering an extortionate wage of 120k+. Free agents in high demand know what they can demand, but even so the higher fee for JT levels itself out with not having the fee in my opinion, I know he’s an older CB than many would like but for his level of experience and leadership I think it works fine. Many Evertons fans reference Leicester’s signing of Jonny Evans as something we should be doing, I believe that is exactly what’s happening here, similar age and similar costing.
How does he fit in to this Everton team?
For a start Tarkowski walks in to this Everton side on current form, even if Mina stays that’s a formidable partnership. The question on many people’s mind is “if the manager wants us to switch to a possession based high line, how does Tarkowski from Burnley fit that?” and I think people are right to ask that in fairness it’s a reasonable question to ask of course. Tarkowski on the surface is a typical Burnley CB, defensive with no plan to play out from the back with the ball at his feet, but that’s how Burnley set up, Players in that backline almost have to play like that under Dyche. It’s hard to judge, when we watch Tarkowski in this Burnley team it’s hard to see what he could offer in that bracket because he’s told to play another way, same goes with attempting to look at his stats, because they will reflect how he’s told to play at Burnley. I’m not going to lie and say ‘I can remember Tarkowski at Brentford before Burnley where he was capable on the ball!’ because I can’t, but what I can say is from people who I’ve spoken to who watch him more is that he’s not terrible on the ball & was/is a pretty decent passer of the ball. Time will tell on this one for me personally, as admittedly I haven’t been able to get a viewpoint on whether he is or not. For what it’s worth looking at his pass stats they aren’t looking good, but neither do Mina’s, Keane’s, Godfrey’s or Mason Holgate’s for this season, because again in a season where Everton have been woeful and hardly had the ball, it’s difficult to really get a grasp from stats from style of play/circumstance.
How does he compare to the current CB’s?
To be blunt, he’d straight away be in our top 2 centre backs, behind only Yerry Mina (in my opinion anyway) but of course the thing he has over Mina is his availability. James Tarkowski has not had a full PL season where he’s played below 30 PL games at least, and according to Transfermarkt injury stats, he’s only missed 12 games through injury for Burnley since signing for the club 6.5 years ago. Now to compare that with Mina since he joined the club
from Barcelona in summer 18/19, Mina has missed roughly 70 games through injury, some difference.
Now of course we’re not signing Tarkowski purely because he is reliable on the availability front, because to be fair to Michael Keane he plays a lot of matches throughout the season, but Tarkowski is a significant improvement on Michael Keane and an all-round better defender. Keane has been a shaky piece in the Everton defence for a while now, not really knowing what you’re going to get, Tarkowski should eliminate that element and provide sturdy hands at the back.
In terms of both Holgate & Godfrey, he’s better than both of them too defensively, all at different stages in career. He’s the type of figure you could see a Godfrey/Holgate lining up alongside and learning from if Yerry Mina is to leave the club as expected.
To conclude, if you haven’t guessed already, I think it’s a more than decent addition to Everton’s squad for their aims next season (which should be making sure they are not in the same position as 21/22) I think he adds steel at the back, and the fact he’s a reliable option means Everton may finally be able to actual get a continuous partnership in defence for the upcoming season, something they’ve not been able to do every year due to Mina’s fragility with Injuries. Although turning 30 later this year, it’s still an attractive signing for a fairly youngish CB group. From the sound of it the manager is clearly a fan, pushing hard for him here whilst also being keen on him whilst manager of Chelsea.
Without trying to jinx it, I think this could end up being some of the best PL business of the summer, in terms of instant impact on a side. I think Everton have picked themselves up a reliable operator who can fill that gap for 3 years, a good pick up whilst Everton have struggles financially. The age will get peoples back up, but Everton badly need that solid backline if they are to go to Bramley Moore a strong PL side in a couple years’ time, I’m confident Tarkowski can plug that hole for that period of time.
Time will tell!