Premier League

Why Vydra must finally prove top flight worth

 • by James Nalton
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Burnley snapped up striker Matěj Vydra from Derby County just days before the transfer window closed, with the Czech Republic international becoming the clubs third and last signing of the summer.

Sean Dyche’s side had dipped into the transfer market for two defensive signings, bolstering their back line with the addition of Ben Gibson, who will challenge Ben Mee for the spot on the left side of defence, and Joe Hart who adds to their contingent of English goalkeepers.

This meant Vydra was the only attacking signing made by the Lancashire club for the new season, as they look to fine tune their existing squad rather than upset their rhythm with a glut of new arrivals.

The 26-year-old finished last season as the Championship’s top scorer. He was the only player in the division to go past 20 goals, and his 21 strikes helped Derby to a playoff place.

It was a season in which he played mostly as a support striker behind David Nugent or Cameron Jerome, and this is a role he could be used in again at Burnley in those games where they operate in the 4-4-1-1 formation often used last season.

The forward felt he deserved his move to the Premier League, even if his Derby side didn’t get theirs.

“For the last four years I have been fighting to be in the Premier League,” he said after signing for Burnley.

“I haven’t done it with the teams I was playing for and sometimes it has to be done with a transfer and now I’m so happy.”

Vydra has been searching for Premier League football ever since arriving on English shores in 2012, when he joined Watford on loan from Udinese.

He scored 20 goals and made 8 assists that season for the Hornets, but rather than remaining with them next season, he was loaned to Premier League side, West Bromwich Albion.

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He only managed three goals in 23 appearances for the Baggies, but his playing time was limited. He rejoined Watford in the Championship the season after, before signing on a permanent deal in 2015, when they gained promotion.

A loan to Reading saw him remain in the Championship, however, before he became Derby County’s record signing in 2016. After his scoring feats last season, he now gets his second chance in the Premier League joining Burnley for an undisclosed fee thought to be around £11 million.

Dyche has already commented on his new player’s chances of making the first team in the early part of this season.

“He’s catching up. He hasn’t played a lot of football at Derby in the pre-season and hadn’t trained with the first-team as much probably as you normally would,” he said.

“So he’ll be playing catch-up. He managed a game in on Monday, he’ll get another game the next week and training with the players.

“But like anyone, we’ve got to make sure there is appropriate timing, not push too hard to make sure he gets fit and into the speed of things at a good enough pace, don’t get me wrong, because we need bodies at the moment, but not where he’s going to break himself so we’re being careful with that.”

The Burnley boss will need to use the depth of his squad in the coming weeks as they continue their progress through the Europa League qualifying rounds. This is where Vydra may wish he was already match-fit, as it’s in these games he may have got his opportunity.

Should Burnley get past Olympiacos in the Europa League playoff, then they will need to delve into the depths of their squad even more as they look to retain the impressive league for which saw them qualify for Europe in the first place.

Dyche may have had this in mind when he signed Vydra to support the likes of Ashley Barnes, Sam Vokes, and Chris Wood, but as mentioned before he could play in the same XI as these players rather than be vying to take their place. He could be used in a position similar to the one currently occupied by Jeff Hendrick between midfield and striker.

The Football Whispers player persona graphic shows how different he is in style to Burnley’s other forwards, and indicates that he is more likely to play as a direct running No. 10 who will be expected to chip in with goals.

The extra dribbling ability shown in the above image, plus his added pace, could compliment the aerial prowess of the other strikers at the club, offering a good combination of skills in attacking areas when the aforementioned 4-4-1-1, or a strike pairing in a standard 4-4-2, are used.

While Dyche may not yet consider him ready for action, the best way to get match fit is to play matches. The upcoming European tie may be a good opportunity to do so, even if just from the bench, and then fans may begin to see how and where their new signing slots in.

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