Everton have signed defender James Tarkowski on a four-year contract. The defender will be free to join the club on July 1st after his current deal with Burnley expires on June 30th. The 29-year-old underwent his medical with the Blue early on the morning of June 8th after returning from holiday with the contract signed soon after.
In the days leading up to his signing manager Frank Lampard had been rumoured to have made the former England national a target, with a couple of other clubs circling. Additional reports said that Everton had offered him adequate playing time to ensure he would have a chance to get back into the Three Lions set up, especially with the World Cup looming midway through this season.
The centrehalf leaves Burnley after six years, having joined them in the 2016 winter transfer window ahead of their promotion from the Championship. He had previously played at Brentford for two season while they were in the second tier, having joined them in January 2014 from Oldham Athletic.
During his time under Sean Dyche at the Clarets, he picked up a reputation for being a tough and uncompromising defender who was not shy going into challenges. While the club was captained by his Ben Mee, he has also been credited for displaying leadership while hi defensive partner was out injured. The Toffees have struggled mightily in recent years with both characteristics as the defence continues to be porous and the club not showing backbone when faced with challenges.
Lampard is expected to switch the Blues to a more expansive playing style after their pragmatic, defence-first mentality served its purpose to ensure safety late last season. Despite Tarkowski being viewed by many as the prototypical Burnley defender, he shows excellent strength and vision on the ball, and most importantly for Lampard, strength in the air. Everton’s setpiece defending has continued to be woeful for a couple of years now and the added dimension the Englishman brings to the attack as well will be useful.
"Bring me an English CB who goes by JT!"— smarterscout (@smarterscout) June 8, 2022
James Tarkowski played for Sean Dyche so long that he forgot what ball retention was. But he's outstanding on the ball and dangerous in the air, too. Definitely a better defender on the right than the left.#Everton #Toffees #EvertonFC pic.twitter.com/ub5oEpokEJ
Tarkowski has shown his durability over the years as well, missing just eight games over the last four seasons. Everton’s best defender in recent years has been Yerry Mina, but his fragility has given the club plenty of cause for concern, hence the need for a reliable centreback that can be counted on to play at least 35 games a season across all competitions.
His only two England caps both came in 2018 under current manager Gareth Southgate. Tarkowski’s aerial ability has shown itself over the years at Burnley, and he picked up seven goals and five assists in 194 league games for the Clarets, while also lining up as a defensive midfielder early on at Turf Moor too.
There is some risk there for the Blues handing a 29-year-old a four-year contract on what is presumably a big wage considering he doesn’t come with a transfer fee, but with the defence now solidified Director of Football Kevin Thelwell can start concentrating on other positions of need for the Blues.