Farewell to four first team players
Burnley confirmed yesterday that all of Phil Bardsley, Aaron Lennon, Erik Pieters and Dale Stephens will be leaving the club when their contracts end in around three weeks time.
They are four players who have had varying levels of success with only Stephens, whose two years at Turf Moor have been blighted with injuries, not making a significant contribution.
Of the four, Bardsley has been with us the longest. He actually made his Burnley debut as far back as March 2006. That was in a 1-0 defeat at Stoke; he’d been signed on loan from Manchester United and debuted alongside Andy Gray who had arrived from Sunderland. The loan was cut short after six games when he suffered an injury at Hull but he’d done enough for manager Steve Cotterill to do all he could to sign him that summer on a permanent basis.
It didn’t happen and we had to wait another eleven years before Sean Dyche was able to sign him from Stoke. He was signed as cover initially for Matt Lowton but went on to add a further 71 appearances for the club and became a very popular player with his enthusiastic approach. He will be 37 later this month and he hasn’t featured at all in the Premier League over the past season so his departure was inevitable.
Maybe not quite so inevitable was the departure of Pieters. He’s been with us for three years and we understand that Bardsley played more than a bit part in him becoming a Burnley player. A left-back, but he’s played all over the place for us, including the right side of midfield, and he’s never let us down. He was playing as well as ever earlier this year when he suffered an injury in the draw at Crystal Palace on the last Saturday in February. Out for some time, he was able to make just one substitute appearance in the remainder of the season. Now aged 33, the Dutch international who, like Bardsley, was signed from Stoke is looking for a new club.
That’s the same with Lennon whose second spell with Burnley has come to an end. He was close to signing for us initially in the same 2017 summer window as Bardsley but it was January before he was able to become a Claret. He was with us until close to the end of the 2019/20 season when his contract wasn’t renewed during Project Restart but returned last August for one more season.
The 35-year-old might not have been the player who was adored at Spurs but he had a terrific spell I thought when he returned to the side during last season, but that run ended with the departure of Dyche. He did feature in seven of the eight games under Michael Jackson’s management but only two of those were starts in the win at Watford and the home defeat against Aston Villa. Given that, it would have been a surprise had he been offered a new deal.
As Burnley were clinching promotion six years ago, the whole place seemed to know that we were signing Stephens from Brighton. They said no, even when he tried to force the deal by handing in a transfer request. The signing finally happened four years later, our flagship signing of the 2020 summer transfer window. By this time, he was suffering from injuries and that’s continued throughout his time at Burnley during which time he’s played only fourteen first team games.
Stephens might not have been a successful signing; the other three, in my view were, and as much as its no surprise to see four players past their best leave, there is no doubt that the three who have been able to contribute have done so positively over the time they’ve been at Burnley.
We wish all four of them the very best.Follow UpTheClarets:
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