Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

In mid-March, following a home defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Stan Collymore said what every single Everton supporter trudging away from at Goodison Park after yet another insipid, uninspired performance was thinking. 

“They are feckless, they lack bottle,” the former Premier League frontman wrote in his column for the Daily Mirror. 

“(Manager Frank Lampard) played in teams brimming with leaders and I just don’t see anywhere near enough of them at Everton. Is Seamus Coleman a leader? Definitely. Jordan Pickford? Maybe. 

“But beyond those two I’m struggling. And, let’s be honest, one of the two I’ve identified is past his peak and the other has a rick in him at any given moment.” 

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One thing you certainly could not accuse James Tarkowski of, however, is a reluctance to lead by example.

No one in their right mind would have held anything against the twice-capped England international if he’d missed Burnley’s trip to Watford at the end of April following what the Lancashire Telegraph described as a ‘family emergency’. 

But Tarkowski not only made himself available, he also captained the side to a vital 2-1 win in their battle against the drop. 

“We were down in the hotel (on Friday night). He got picked up, got driven straight down, put on the bus and straight in the game,” interim coach Mike Jackson explained. 

“That’s his character – what he’s done to get himself here and ready to play. That typifies what he is, what sort of leader he is. For the lads to see him, they knew what had happened, credit to him.” 

Everton want Burnley’s James Tarkowski and they need him too

Now, a crisis-riddled Everton side facing more problems than Jay-Z on a bad day need more than just Tarkowski as they look to bounce back from a campaign that very nearly ended in their relegation for the first time since the days before Elvis Pressley was a household name on both sides of the Atlantic.

The 29-year-old would not solve their over-reliance on Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. Or, for that matter, a damning lack of depth at full-back. Not to mention a dearth of energy and creativity from central midfield. 

What he would provide, however, is a consistent, reliable presence in a backline that almost seems to view defending as optional rather than obligatory.

Put simply, it’s hard to imagine a man as committed, as composed, as commanding as Tarkowski making the sort of game-changing, sense-defying blunder that Everton made their calling card in 2021/22.

No team in the league conceded as many mistakes that led directly to opposition goals as Everton after all. 

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

What’s more, Tarkowski’s willingness to throw himself at loose balls could help solve Everton’s biggest Achilles heel; Set-piece defending.

Per WhoScored, only two players completed more clearances (5.2 per game) than Tarkowski, even as Burnley ended the campaign in the bottom three.

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According to The Mail, an ambitious Aston Villa could blow Everton out the water. They will offer Tarkowski a double-your-money, £120,000-a-week deal in the Midlands.

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But if The Toffees are to avoid a repeat of their worst campaign in living memory, they cannot stand idly by and let Villa storm into pole position. 

Everton’s season was decided on fine margins. Barring major surgery, the next one could be largely the same.

Tarkowski, at least, will help ensure Everton fall on the right side of the line again. 

Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images

The post Opinion: Everton can't let Aston Villa seal £120k-a-week deal, Lampard needs him appeared first on HITC.

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