The 31-year-old is unwanted by Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, and his poor form in East London has meant few clubs are showing an interest.
Burnley beat Newcastle United in the final match of the Premier League weekend in what was a poor game for the neutral. It was selected for television coverage, but it was a tight affair with both teams focusing on staying tight at the back rather than committing men forward for attacks. The first goal was going to be crucial in settling the contest and it was the home side that got it through Jeff Hendrick. As a result, the Clarets move above their opponents into 7th position and are set for another good Premier League season. Here are three talking points from the match:
Sean Dyche furthered his reputation once again
This fixture fell on the fifth anniversary of Sean Dyche being appointed manager at Turf Moor. At the time of him being given the job, the team were in 14th position in the Championship. He has managed to build something special at the club and their victory on Monday means that they are now positioned in 7th. They are currently the best of the rest and that is a great achievement, even at this early stage.
Burnley would have entered the season with their main aim being survival and that already seems likely with Dyche at the help. The Clarets’ manager knows the strengths of his side are and recruited to enhance those during the summer. Given the current debate about English managers and the lack of opportunities available to them, Dyche is an example of how to make it to the top. He developed his skills in the Football League and is now in a position to put himself forward for bigger jobs. If Everton want to go British, he is the only option.
Newcastle missed Mikel Merino
At the time of the teams being announced, it was a surprise to see Mikel Merino not on the team-sheet for the visitors. The midfielder has been one of the standout players in the Premier League this season and already looks a bargain for the price that Newcastle paid. The Magpies play a style that centres on winning the ball in midfield areas and countering with pace. Although Mo Diame worked hard and made four ball recoveries, he had a tackle success rate of only 33%.
The Senegalese international was beaten too many times in the middle of the park, while his distribution was less effective than Merino’s usually is. Rafa Benitez selected Diame based on his impressive cameo performance against Crystal Palace last weekend, but he will look back on the decision with regret. Isaac Hayden would have been a better option in the middle of the park. Newcastle will be hoping that their recent recruit from Borussia Dortmund is back at the weekend, as they are a much better outfit with him on the pitch.
Rafa Benitez needs a plan B
There is method to the tactical set-up of Rafa Benitez, even if it is frustrating for supporters. They look to stay defensively solid and focus on keeping goals out rather than being adventurous themselves. A total of 14 points from ten matches and an average of less than a goal per game being conceded suggests that it is working. The mood at St James’ Park is one of optimism, but three narrow away defeats to Huddersfield Town, Brighton and Burnley are a disappointment.
In those matches, Newcastle have failed to score and the reason for that is those sides have opted for a similar game-plan focused on counter-attacking. There are fewer spaces in behind the opposition defence and the Magpies have lacked ideas of how to break them down. Benitez needs to learn from these three matches and devise a plan B for these type of away matches, as the current game-plan has now failed three times. Aleksandar Mitrovic is an option to shake things up and he will surely get a chance at some point during the coming weeks.
Jay Rodriguez reunion at Burnley would suit both parties
The 28-year-old is a Turf Moor academy graduate.
West Brom want to reduce their wage bill, and Sean Dyche’s Clarets are recruiting for their journey in Europe next season, so the deal on paper makes perfect sense.
The forward spent five-years with his hometown club, before a £6 million move to Southampton back in 2012. The 28-year-old was made available after West Brom were relegated from the Premier League earlier this month.
Rodriguez needs a fresh start after enduring one of the more troubling seasons of his career so far. Relegation was overshadowed and clouded by an allegation that he racially abused Brighton defender Gaetan Bong.
He was charged by the FA, but the allegation was not proven. Despite scoring seven times in 37 league games for the Baggies, Rodriguez will agree it’s been a season to forget, and his former club could be the team to save him.
The former Burnley striker was a fan favourite on Turf Moor before his move to Southampton six years ago, scoring 41 times in 128 appearances. He would give Dyche’s side more attacking depth which is an urgent requirement considering they have to juggle the Premier League with Europa League duties next season.
Meanwhilem Darren Moore is desperate to reshape his squad at West Brom and to do that he has to part ways with some of his more marketable players and Rodriguez fit’s into that category.
Burnley will surely be interested in the transfer considering the Englishman scored 11 goals in all competitions for a West Brom side that only managed 31 league goals in total.
The 28-year-old would also be moving closer to home, having been born in Burnley, and he remains one of the club’s most famous success stories from the academy.
The Claret’s should be bold and bring Rodriguez back to the team that discovered his talent. West Brom are desperate to offload their high earners, and the move would be perfect for all parties involved.
Tom Heaton would be the perfect replacement for Joe Hart at West Ham
The 32-year-old is being valued at just £10 million.
The report claims that Hart will not return to West Ham following his loan move from Manchester City. His mixed time at the club hasn’t given Hammers supporters a reason to demand a permanent deal for the England international.
Instead, the East London side have turned their attention to Burnley and Tom Heaton as their new number one, with the 32-year-old keeper valued at £10 million.
The Chester born keeper began the season as Sean Dyche’s first choice but lost his place to Nick Pope after he suffered a dislocated shoulder last August.
The outstanding Pope and immediately staked a claim to be England’s number one in the summer World Cup. Due to his displays, he looks to have kept Heaton out of the team for the foreseeable future.
Considering Heaton has been an England squad regular in recent years, it is difficult to see him happy to be the number two at Turf Moor and an exit for the former Bristol City keeper could be imminent.
With over 178 appearances in the Premier League, Heaton would be the perfect signing for a goalkeeper position that has caused a lot of headache for fans at the London Stadium.
Both Hart and Adrian have been in and out of the first team and neither has pushed their cause as to why they should be the standout choice for the number one spot.
At Burnley, Heaton’s move to the substitute bench is one of the more unfortunate stories of the season as no-one came close to the 6ft 2 keeper before his injury.
If it wasn’t for Pope having one of the greatest debut seasons of the Premier League era then it would have been a given to see Heaton come back in as number one.
His manager, Sean Dyche, will most likely want to keep him at the club, especially considering the club’s Europa League commitments next season.
However, the Burnley boss would also understand that a keeper of his quality is too good to be wasting the final years of his career on the sidelines.
If Heaton were to move to the London Stadium then West Ham will have yet another England international in their ranks.
However, this time they would be getting an assured, established Premier League keeper, who has been fundamental in Burnley’s success for many-a-year.
Joe Bryan would be the perfect signing for Sean Dyche’s Burnley
The 24-year-old has had a fine individual season at Ashton Gate.
Burnley have been the feel-good story of the Premier League over the last two years, as the club are set to complete a journey from the Championship to the Europa League.
The finances in football mean that it is difficult for a club to progress naturally, but the Clarets have shown that it is still possible and Sean Dyche has been the driving force behind their upwards trajectory.
One major reason for their success has been their recruitment.
The club have not tried to over-spend or sign players based on their reputation.
Their approach allows them to sign players tailored for their needs and it is no surprise that the majority of their signings over the last two years have fitted in seamlessly.
It would be a mistake if they changed their approach this summer, even with the added pressure of the Europa League.
In recent days, they have been linked with one Championship player that seems to be the perfect fit for the squad at Turf Moor.
The Telegraph report that Joe Bryan has emerged as a target for the Premier League club.
They go on to state that Dyche is ready to offer £6 million for the Bristol City left-back as he tries to improve both the quality and depth of the squad ahead of next season.
The rumour mill is starting to accelerate and the majority of media stories need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but this does make a lot of sense.
If Burnley continue with the recruitment policy, Bryan would be a great fit for them and immediately improve their starting eleven at left-back.
Bristol City’s season slowed down during the second half of the campaign, but they have impressed those that have watched them regularly and Bryan has been one of their standout performers.
The left-back has contributed four goals and three assists in the league, in addition to two strikes in the League Cup including one against Manchester United.
He would add a much-needed attacking threat from left full-back and that would provide an extra dimension to the Burnley team.
Although his decision making and defensive contribution needs work, he is a very good young full-back with the potential to thrive in the Premier League.
Bryan is an aggressive defender, as shown by his average of three successful tackles and 3.2 clearances per game.
At times, he can be guilty of committing to too many forward runs, but that is something that could be addressed.
Dyche is very good at coaching a defence and the 24-year-old would benefit from working with the Burnley manager.
Dyche will be the first to admit that it will be difficult to replicate Burnley’s success, especially with the scheduling problems caused by the Europa League.
However, it would be foolish to make any huge changes to how they are currently conducting business.
Joe Bryan may not be an international with lots of experience in Europe, but he would be a great signing for this squad and fit in immediately.
The Clarets should do everything in their power to secure his services.