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Comment: Burnley need to double low-ball offer for West Brom pair

By Matt Wilson | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

You could forgive both Jay Rodriguez and Craig Dawson for opting to join Burnley this summer.

Jay Rodriguez and Craig Dawson are interesting Burnley. (AMA)

Not only can Sean Dyche’s men offer Premier League football, but they can offer the potential of Europe League football too.

Both men are 28-years-old and entering the prime of their career, and both have outside aspirations of forcing their way into the England conversation, particularly considering Gareth Southgate’s refreshing approach to selection.

For Rodriguez, the move would be an emotional homecoming, a return to the club he has supported since he was a child coming through the ranks at Turf Moor.

He is still adored in Lancashire, where he is heralded as ‘one of our own’, and where his family still reside.

Dawson too, hails from that part of the world. He was born just 15 miles down the road in Rochdale.

Neither would be chasing the money. Burnley operate under a strict salary cap that keeps all their players on a level playing field to keep team spirit healthy.

Last season’s highest earner was Jack Cork on £40,000-a-week, way below Rodriguez’s £65,000-a-week salary at Albion and less than Dawson’s pay too.

Both men would be able to get more money elsewhere, and would be, in effect, taking a pay cut to join Burnley (although it would be more than their salaries in the Championship with Albion).

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Of course, it is not just up to them. The Baggies still hold a strong negotiating position. Dawson has two years left on his contract, Rodriguez has three.

Chief executive Mark Jenkins has confirmed the club do not need to sell any players for financial reasons this summer and head coach Darren Moore will try to convince them to stay.

No wonder, because both would be fantastic assets in the Championship.

What’s more, Albion have already lost Jonny Evans this summer and know Salomon Rondon could leave at any moment because of his £16.5m relegation release clause.

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The Baggies will, quite rightly, play hardball over the fees.

But one of the lessons that should have been learned from last season is knowing when to sell.

Jonny Evans never recovered from being refused the chance to join Manchester City, and while Dawson and Rodriguez are two professional characters with their heads firmly switched on, players are human beings too.

There is also the notion that this team who got Albion relegated owe it to the fans to stick around and help them get back up, but Dawson and Rodriguez were arguably two of the club’s best performers last season – alongside Chris Brunt and Ben Foster.

Burnley’s opening bid of £25m for the pair of them is far too low, and will need to be increased dramatically to get the Baggies remotely interested.

It is also highly likely to split into separate bids for financial and logistic reasons, their futures are not entwined.

Albion will want more than £20m for each of them, not both, and understandably so.

Rodriguez netted 11 times in a dreadful team last season despite being played out of position and dropped at key points. He also proved his fitness.

Last summer, Middlesbrough told Albion that Ben Gibson would cost more than £22m even though he’d only featured for one season in the Premier League.

Dawson may be three years older, but he has developed into a reliable top tier defender over the past four seasons, is versatile enough to play right-back, and has proven himself at centre-back.

More importantly, Albion simply can’t sell either without lining up suitable replacements first, and even then, they will demand market value for their two prize assets.

Burnley will need to significantly revise their offers.

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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