Busy window closes for the Clarets
When we made the journey to Swansea by car on the second day of the year, one of the discussion points was the month’s transfer window and what business we might do, what we felt was needed and what we would like.
We are notoriously slow in windows and there was never going to be a dramatic start as we’d seen on a couple of previous occasions. Back in 2007, Ade Akinbiyi returned from Sheffield United on New Year’s Day, ten years later it went into the second day before we announced another return, that of Joey Barton.
We held a three point lead at the top of the league as we made that journey to South Wales (and it was five points by the time we got home). We also had an eleven point lead over third and that extended to fourteen points with the win.
Our conclusion was that we actually didn’t need to strengthen at all during this window. We thought it would be good to get a couple of new faces in but believed our position meant that would be a bonus.
Chairman Alan Pace said it would be a quiet window. In the two previous January windows that brought us Wout Weghorst, he suggested we’d be active, so a quiet one did probably mean we shouldn’t expect anything. Vincent Kompany sort of disagreed and said we had to consider bringing in new players in readiness for next season given that players would be leaving either through their contracts expiring along with loan players returning to their parent clubs.
We might not have needed anything, but by the time the window slammed shut a couple of days ago, no fewer than eighteen players had been involved in moves in or out of Burnley and in three examples both.
By the end of the first week of the year, four players had gone, three of them among our most experienced players. One of them, the last of the four, I think we’d all know about for a while but there were some surprises too.
Matt Lowton led the way on the 4th January with a loan move to Huddersfield and a day later it was farewell to our longest serving player Kevin Long who moved to Birmingham. One day on and Peterborough snapped up goalkeeper Will Norris on loan and making it four in four days was Ashley Westwood who moved to MLS club Charlotte.
Two of the four, Lowton and Westwood, both signed by Sean Dyche from Aston Villa, had been main stays but, like the other two, hadn’t featured all season. Their final games for Burnley but ended prematurely too; Westwood was stretchered off at West Ham and Lowton was sent off at Aston Villa.
That left some gaps in the squad in terms of numbers but we had another week to wait until our own mad Friday when four players were involved in moves. Mark Helm kicked it off with a permanent transfer to Burton and soon after came news of the first incoming, that of central defender Ameen Al-Dakhil from Belgian club Sint Truiden.
Later in the day, Dara Costelloe joined Bradford City and then came the most incredible of moves with Burnley recalling striker Wout Weghorst from Beşiktaş to allow him to go straight back out on loan to Manchester United. I first learned of that potential moved via a text message on the way home from the cup tie at Bournemouth and have to admit that I thought it was a wind up.
A day later there was a similar but more low profile move with Bobby Thomas being recalled from Bristol Rovers and Joey Barton to sign a loan deal with Barnsley and Michael Duff.
The next week saw Michael Mellon make a loan move to Morecambe and then another couple of incomings. We strengthened defensively again with the capture of Hjalmar Ekdal from Djurgårdens before returning to Belgium to bring in South African striker Lyle Foster from Westerlo.
We weren’t quite finished. Luke McNally was next, going to Coventry on loan with Owen Dodgson making a similar move to Rochdale. Between those two moves, Lewis Richardson was recalled from his loan at Grimsby.
Not long to go, the final few days and the worst kept secret was finally revealed last Sunday when Michael Obafemi signed from Swansea. That just left time for two new under-21 signings in Tom Tweedy and Deji Satona, CJ Egan-Riley to join Hibs on loan and for us to sign Enock Agyei from Anderlecht before allowing him to make an immediate return to Belgium and sign a loan deal with Mechelen. And to add to all that in the last few days came the good news that Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson had signed a new deal.
The ’quiet’ window is closed. Quiet? A total of 21 players have either arrived, left, both or, in JBG’s case, signed a new deal.
Do you remember the old suggestion from Mike Garlick that we always wanted to be stronger at the end of a window than we were when it opened? That was one he gave up on in the last two years? The question is, are we stronger this time around?
I don’t think there is much debate to be honest. If you look at what we’ve lost, only Costelloe has played any first team football for us this season. We all knew that the Burnley careers of players such as Lowton and Westwood had come to an end. In terms of minutes on the pitch, they can’t be missed because they weren’t playing.
Similarly, McNally and Egan-Riley have gone out on loan but neither had started a league game for us; Egan-Riley started at Shrewsbury in the League Cup while McNally got in over an hour at Bournemouth in the FA Cup.
So departures haven’t weakened us but we’ve brought in two central defenders and two strikers during the window who we all hope will have an impact at Burnley. We saw one of the central defenders, Ameen Al-Dakhil, start last week at Ipswich and play well and Hjalmar Ekdal comes with some pedigree who has already represented his country.
Add to that, there are two new international strikers now in the squad. I can’t say I know too much about Foster at all but we all know that Obafemi has already scored goals at Championship level and could prove to be an astute piece of business.
So that’s it, the window has closed. Our next signing can’t come until after this season has ended. By then, hopefully, we’ll be a Premier League club again. But I’d suggest this has been a terrific window for us, probably the best January window we’ve had since Joey Barton, Westwood and Robbie Brady all arrived six years ago.Follow UpTheClarets:
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