For the first time in six years, Burnley will play Championship football when the new season gets underway at the end of July after suffering relegation heartbreak on the final day of the Premier League season earlier this month.
And to the surprise of many, it won’t be the long-serving Sean Dyche leading them into the 2022-23 campaign after he was sacked by chairman Alan Pace in April after 10 years in charge of the Clarets.
Under-23’s boss Mike Jackson was unable to keep the club in the top flight, and despite no confirmation yet from Turf Moor, it appears that former Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany will be the man tasked with the responsibility of getting the East Lancashire outfit back to the Premier League.
Kompany left Anderlecht of his home nation last week after two years in charge, and one of the routes he explored when it came to transfers was his links to the Etihad Stadium, firstly bringing in Lukas Nmecha in the 2020-21 season before landing Taylor Harwood-Bellis in the following campaign.
Quiz: Can you name which club Burnley signed these 20 players from when they were in the Football League?
Now he’s set to be back in the north west of England, Kompany is in a prime location for City to help him out with some of their top young talents who need senior experience, and one of those in the form of James McAtee could be perfect for Burnley next season.
Despite having a plethora of world class talent at his disposal, Pep Guardiola has always given the odd chance to a young starlet upon occasion, and McAtee has received six of those in the 2021-22 season – two appearances in the Premier League, another two in the FA Cup as well as a UEFA Champions League and EFL outing a-piece.
Even though that all totalled just 116 minutes of game-time, McAtee’s main playground has been the under-23’s Premier League, where he scored 17 times and notched 7 assists in 22 appearances.
There were back-to-back hat-tricks against Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United in August in that period, and the 19-year-old could bring something to the table that Burnley fans haven’t seen for years – creativity from the middle of the pitch.
For years, Clarets fans have been used to seeing balls lofted up the pitch to target men and the engine room being cut out of the build-up play, but under Kompany it will be different, and they need someone creative to make things happen in the number 10 role – should the Belgian utilise one.
McAtee isn’t the only young City player who Kompany may have his eyes on – Cole Palmer, Gavin Bazunu, Liam Delap and Harwood-Bellis will likely all be looked at – but that will be one of the reasons why Pace has opted to bring the 36-year-old to Turf Moor as he can attract top young players who want to play for him.
The first player on Kompany’s wish-list though should be McAtee, who looks tailor-made for senior football and there will be no better experience than being in a Championship promotion push.