The third and final round of the relegation transfer game. After six seasons in the Premier League, Burnley hung on until the final matchday of the season. Seven wins and allowing 79 goals left them with just 35 points. Now back in the Championship and without their head coach of the last decade, Sean Dyche, it’s the beginning of a new era at Burnley.
You are probably already aware, but there aren’t a lot of great options to pick from on the Burnley squad. The team built by Sean Dyche was in his image in so many ways and was the oldest roster in the Premier League this past season (28.7). As a reminder Arsenal was the youngest at 24.2. So when you have a defensive team that is also older, there is limited transfer value. Especially considering Arsenal’s current model.
No passes. If you had to pick up a player from Burnley to bring into Mikel Arteta’s squad, who would it be and why? Consider their position, likely cost, age, and Arsenal’s need.
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Projected Value: $8 million
Argument For: Arsenal does need an additional midfielder (or two) and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a club in the Premier League add Brownhill this summer. He’s 26 and while defensive-minded, he managed two goals and three assists. Brownhill was in the club’s top five or thereabout in numerous passing categories, actions that led to shots, etc. But his stats, profile, and attacking ability would make this an extremely hard sell at Arsenal. Arteta now has Elneny back next season and several upcoming academy midfielders.
Projected Value: $9 million
Argument For: One of the few young options that got a decent amount of playing time. Just 21, and in his first season in the Premier League, Collins finished high in Burnley’s stat leaders for shot blocks, clearances, and winning aerial duels. He isn’t the finished product yet but clearly could develop into a top-flight CB in due time. At the position Arsenal already have White, Gabriel, Holding, and Saliba as the presumed four CBs to feature next season. So Collins would slot in behind them, but above the numerous U23 prospects — Daniel Ballard (who could be sold this summer after being on loan at Millwall), Omar Rekik, Jonathan Dinzeyi, Alex Kirk, and Mazeed Ogungbo. Will Arsenal add Collins? Unlikely, but of the options here, signing him for a loan into the Championship, wouldn’t be the worst business.
Projected Value: $15 million
Argument For: Arriving from Lyon last summer as Burnley’s fourth most expensive transfer, Cornet was their most dangerous attacker — and the most likely to be on the move. He led the club with nine goals and was the player with the highest xG (6.7). Add on top of that he is still just 25 and his experience with the Ivory Coast national team and the result is multiple Premier League clubs looking to secure his signature. He scored this season from CF, LW, AM, and LM. Adding him to Martinelli on the left, shifting Smith Rowe into the #10 role with Odegaard, and the additional coverage at center forward or a left midfield, if Arteta played an attacking 4-3-3, makes Cornet a reasonable signing depending on the price.
Projected Value: $24 million
Argument For: If Cornet was Burnley’s most productive player, McNeil might be their most-watched prospect. At 22, he has the highest transfer value at the club (tied with James Tarkowski but who is 29) and the ability to play on either the right or the left in a winger or midfield position. At that price, or around it, a club would really have to believe in McNeil’s ability to turn promise into results. Now in a better team, a more attacking team, perhaps he makes that leap. He was first in xA, completed crosses and passes into the box, and was way ahead of anyone else on the team in actions that ultimately led to shots. Burnley could really use a player of his profile next season in the Championship and he would probably get the most out of another full season of starts. Comparing his price and position with Cornet, it’s clear what Arsenal’s choice would be.
Projected Value: $4 million
Argument For: Over 150 matches at Burnley and Leeds United, Taylor is an experienced left-back who would offer nearly the opposite profile as Nuno Tavares. His three assists for Burnley this season tied him for third on the team and he was ranked in the top two for getting the ball into the 18-yard box, actions that led to goals, winning tackles, and blocks. Now is a 28-year-old left-back from relegated Burnley on Arsenal’s transfer wish list this summer? Not even close, but it just goes to show how barren Burnley’s squad was. It’s kind of impressive they finished 18th.
To be fair there weren’t many other names challenging for a spot amongst these five. I’m sure you can make the case for a handful of others over Charlie Taylor, but Burnley needs a massive squad overhaul. While I think Cornet is the most Arsenal-ready player, he could end up going for closer to $30 with Everton and West Ham after him. Arsenal has two great players on the left and bigger needs for that money. Instead, I’d probably try to get Nathan Collins for under $10 million and loan him to a top ten Championship side or lower half Premier League team. It wouldn’t hurt to have a fifth CB waiting in the wings and gaining that level of experience. Who knows what he could develop into in a few years' time or what Arsenal’s CB depth will be then.
Now it’s your turn. Who is your pick and why?