Burnley have had an underwhelming transfer window to date and their starting eleven against Swansea City was weaker than the one that finished last season. The loss of Joey Barton was a huge blow to the club, but they have now strengthened their midfield options with the signing of Steven Defour from Anderlecht.
He arrives for a club record fee believed to be in the region of £7.35 million, which is a tiny amount compared to what the rest of the league are spending. This highlights the uphill task ahead for Burnley, as they try to compete despite having a much smaller budget. There is still a lot of work for the club to do before the transfer window closes, but the signing of Defour will improve the mood at the club after a disappointing opening day defeat.
Although he arrives for a relatively cheap fee in the current market, Defour is a very good player, who is experienced at the highest level. He has 46 caps for Belgium and has played in the Champions League on several occasions. Burnley have failed to consolidate as a Premier League side in their previous two attempts and one of the reasons for that has been their failure to add proven quality after promotion. Steven Defour certainly brings that, but they will need at least two or three of his calibre before the end of the month.
There are doubts about his domestic experience, as he has only played in Belgium and Portugal. He won the league in both countries, but neither are seen as being a top European league. The best five domestic competitions are England, Spain, Germany, Italy, and France. Defour hasn’t played in any of these and there must be a reason why clubs in these competitions have been reluctant to target the Belgian. He will now get the opportunity to test himself in the Premier League with Burnley, but it could take him some time to adjust to a higher standard of competition.
As well as the increased standard, Defour will need to adjust to fighting relegation. He is used to playing for sides at the top of the table, but that won’t be the case with Burnley, who are one of the favourites for relegation. It will be interesting to see if the Belgian international has the battling qualities required to make an impact.
There may be doubts, but that is true with every transfer. The positives outweigh the negatives with this deal as it is obvious that Defour will improve the Burnley side. He will bring some much-needed creativity to the Burnley midfield, as he has the ability to break down defences. Burnley need a player in the midfield with the passing range and vision to create chances for Andre Gray. In Defour, they have a player who can do just that.
Furthermore, he can provide a goalscoring threat of his own from midfield, with his long range shooting one of his better attributes. He is also a dangerous set-piece taker and will replace Barton in that area.
In the past, he has been linked with Manchester United and Everton among others, which shows the quality that Burnley are getting. He is 28 years of age and in the peak years of his career. The Belgian will relish the opportunity to finally test himself in the Premier League and will improve Burnley instantly.
In their opening game, they didn’t look like a Premier League side and struggled to create clear-cut opportunities. They have a striker in Andre Gray, who is capable of scoring the goals required to secure safety, but they must provide the correct service. Steven Defour is the midfield playmaker that Burnley have been crying out for all summer and they have brought him in for a decent fee. Their work isn’t done, but signing Defour will encourage others to join the club and if they add another few players with proven quality, Burnley will have a great chance of survival.
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