Sean Dyche revealed Burnley’s thrifty disposition at the start of 2014 meant they turned down the chance to sign James Tarkowski for £300,000 – before paying around £5million for the defender two years later.
Tarkowski was at Oldham when he came on to Dyche’s radar but the long-serving Burnley manager’s attempts to convince the board to sign the defender seven years ago were rejected at a time of heavy cost-cutting at the club.
Burnley were in the middle of a campaign that would see them promoted back to the Premier League at the time but Tarkowski went to Sky Bet League One club Brentford before Dyche got his man for a much larger fee at the beginning of 2016.
“I did try to get him from Oldham and the board wouldn’t give me £300,000 at the time, we ended up paying £5million, go and figure that one out,” Dyche said ahead of Burnley’s trip to Fulham on Monday evening.
“When I got (the manager’s job at Burnley), the remit was to bring money in, cut costs, not spend anything or very little. Reality-bound at the time. I know it sounds crazy now but I was really pushing to bring James in here.
“The club had put so much into trying to stay in the Premier League then to try to get back in the Premier League and when I got it, they were cutting virtually everything. We couldn’t stump up £300,000 so he went to Brentford.
“I think he really wanted to come and certainly his agent implied strongly that he really wanted to come here. It shows a massive shift in this club but at the time £300,000 was deemed too much.
“That was the reality then and that was where the club was at, so I just managed it the best I could and we carried on. Eventually when I got the chance to go and get him and we had a bit more money then we went and got him.”
Even at the inflated fee, Tarkowski is still regarded as a shrewd purchase as – following the departure of Michael Keane to Everton in the summer of 2017 – he has gone on to form a dependable centre-back partnership with Ben Mee.
Tarkowski’s future at the start of this season was up in the air, with bids of £30million from both Leicester and West Ham declined, although Dyche reiterated that every player at Burnley has a price.
However, as the club were taken over by Delaware-based investment firm ALK Capital at the start of this year, Dyche believes they are on a stronger footing to turn down bids that they do not feel match their own valuation.
“I think there will be a bit more strength financially (under the new ownership) in what we’re trying to achieve and with contracts and that sort of thing,” Dyche added.
“But there’s still a model at this club where if someone hits that number and it’s deemed appropriate then it’s likely that some players go from this club.
“There was a time when we had to take that money, well we haven’t had to take that money. There is no need to take that money so we could keep players here and keep them competitive with our group.
“That’s probably the strength that’s been achieved here over the years financially where we can’t always keep them forever but we can fend off bids if we’re being lowballed or they’re not good enough.”
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