Sean Dyche may have told the press that Burnley are under ‘no pressure to sell anyone’ (Chris Boden of the Burnley Express), but this doesn’t mean that Tom Heaton will not be sold. Speculation in recent days has been linking Heaton with a move to Aston Villa, as reported by David Anderson in the Daily Mirror, and it seems that there is smoke with this fire.
Tom Heaton Leaving Burnley is Inevitable
Dyche’s quote is to simply show any interested party where the power lies. Burnley are unlikely to stand in Heaton’s way if he wishes to leave but they will not be short-changed. It is basic economics to want money for a player if he is unwilling to extend his contract. With Nick Pope very much ready to be the number one, Burnley could risk Heaton having very little action over the coming season before losing him for nothing.
The Nick Pope Problem
The reason Heaton may be seeking a move is because of Pope. The 27-year-old was superb in the 2017/18 season, deputizing for the injured Heaton, and he even managed to keep his place when Heaton returned to full fitness. This season, those roles reversed with Heaton managing to finish the season as the number one after Pope’s pre-season injury.
The club decided to put their faith in Pope by offering the keeper a four-year contract extension. This was a statement of backing from the club that instilled Pope as their long-term keeper. It wasn’t good news for Heaton as he enters the final year of his contract.
At 33, he wants to be playing regularly and his performances for Burnley illustrate that he deserves to be the main man between the sticks. Unfortunately, that’s the problem with having two top quality goalkeepers; you can’t keep both of them happy!
What Qualities Does Tom Heaton Offer?
Heaton would be a brilliant signing for a number of Premier League clubs. He is a fine shot-stopper, organizer and leader from the back. The latter two qualities were very important for Burnley when they needed to get out of last season’s rut. Aston Villa would love that leadership and Premier League experience as they seek to stay in the top flight.
Heaton’s distribution is also impressive. Heaton’s kicks often pick out players while Pope’s kicking feels much more hopeful. It’s unlikely that Dyche will be too concerned with Pope’s inferior distribution but Heaton’s suitors will no doubt appreciate his technical qualities.
One big difference between Pope and Heaton is how they command their box. Heaton is very vocal and barks instructions to the defenders in front of him. Pope is less vocal but will come for many crosses himself, alleviating the pressure from his defence. Nonetheless, Heaton has achieved legendary status within East Lancashire.
He’s played 200 times for Burnley, keeping 65 clean sheets, according to Transfermarkt. Hitting the milestone of 200 appearances illustrates Heaton’s consistency across a long period of time.
The biggest credit to Heaton, though, is the respect he generates. The fans love him and the dressing room love him because he’s a consummate professional. Footballing ability aside, his presence would be welcomed by any football club.
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