Everton has moved to improve a shaky defense by taking James Tarkowski from Burnley. Tarkowski had let his contract run down at the Clarets, so he was a free transfer. Will this prove good business for all?
Tarkowski was born in November 1992, so he is 29 years old. He started out at Oldham (another team relegated last season, sadly dropping right out of the English Footbal Leagues — the first former Premier League team to do so) and moved to Brentford in January 2014. He had two successful years there as the Bees moved up to the Championship, but he left under something of a cloud by refusing to play in a game against Burnley (who was interested in buying him). Burnley did indeed sign him in February 2016 for €4M, and it is as a Burnley defender in the Premier League that he will be best known to most people.
Tarkowski was Everton’s first signing of the summer, as Frank Lampard begins his first full season at the club. Frank obviously sold the club well to Tarkowski:
“I’m an ambitious person, I want to achieve, I want to win things and I’ve come here to be successful.”
In his near six and a half year spell at Burnley, Tarkowski was an almost ever-present name on the team sheet, playing in over 35 Premier League games for each of the past four seasons, and all 38 in the 2019-20 season.
He has some impressive defensive metrics, admittedly playing for a team who did a lot of defending. He was first in the league for interceptions in 2021-22. He also ranked first for offensive duels among center-backs, although he managed only one goal and two assists.
He has also been selected to the England team, making his debut in March 2018 and winning two caps.
How Will Tarkowski Fit in At Everton?
It’s a bit early to say what shape Everton will be in at the start of the season - so far while gaining Tarkowski, they have lost a major attacking asset in Richarlison. After shipping 66 goals last season, Lampard has identified the defense as needing improvement. He will have been conscious that Tarkowski has played most matches too, something not managed by recent Everton defenders, with Jerry Mina in particular missing a lot of games due to injury.
With Jordan Pickford in goal and Tarkowski in defense, there is the nucleus of a solid defense, but Lampard’s teams have not tended to be particularly tight, so it will be interesting to see how this works out. The Toffees look a bit light further up the field too, so if they don’t manage to score many, then they could be in for another tough season near the bottom of the table.
Last season Tarkowski didn’t offer much beyond the fact that he was a more or less definite starter, earning just 83 points from his 35 starts. Of course Burnley had a pretty horrible season, with only seven clean sheets in those 35 starts.
Contrast that with 2019-20, when Tarkowski was not just ever-present but managed 15 clean sheets plus two goals and two assists. He comes in priced at 4.5 in EPL, which might make him slightly interesting, but with opening games against Chelsea and Aston Villa, I expect most managers will stay away while they work out how Everton is going to fare.
In Fantrax he’ll likely be priced quite high based on last season’s closing price, and so he’s not likely to be on many teams there for the time being either. But he has been one of the top-producing defenders in Fantrax, so he is worth keeping an eye on even if Everton struggles, since busy defenders often score well there. He has been in my teams quite regularly over the past few years and has rarely let me down, so I guess I have a bit of a soft spot for him.
Stats, quotes and info for this article were sourced from sofascore.com, liverpoolecho.co.uk, skysports.com, mylondon.news, www.mirror.co.uk, wikipedia.org, transfermarkt.co.uk, fantasy.premierleague.com.
What do you think about James Tarkowski at Everton? Is he an old fantasy favorite that you’d like to bring in again, or is he someone that you might consider now he isn’t playing for Burnley? Please log in and share your thoughts in the comments below.