In recent years, Jonathan Walters has been one of Ireland’s most consistent players in the Premier League. After spending seven years at Stoke City, Walters has now agreed to join Sean Dyche’s Burnley for an undisclosed fee.
Although surely past his prime, Walters could do a decent job for the Clarets – especially as compatriots Robbie Brady, Stephen Ward and Kevin Long are all also strutting their stuff at Turf Moor.
So what can Burnley and Ireland fans expect from Walters? According to WhoScored, the Irishman bagged seven goals and two assists in 34 appearances for Stoke last season; a fairly modest record considering his return in previous campaigns. Looking specifically at his top flight figures, Walters has scored 43 goals and assisted 19 for his teammates in 230 appearances for Mark Hughes’ side.
On paper, Walters’ style of play should suit Burnley down to the ground. In all fairness, his former side Stoke have tweaked their own style and formation in recent times, opting for a more skilful approach than using physicality and aggressive forwards to their advantage. Walters has been a fantastic servant but it is time for a new challenge…
At Burnley, he will adopt a conventional position. Let’s be honest, taking players on and beating them for pace isn’t Walters’ forte – commitment and passion are.
With Walters, you know he is going to put 110% effort in; both on the training ground and during matches. At 33 years old, he heads to Burnley as an experienced veteran and his knowledge of England’s top flight could prove useful to the younger members of Dyche’s squad.
To be completely honest, that level of experience might turn out to be more vital than his role on the pitch come the end of the season. Despite Burnley’s solid performance last campaign, second-season syndrome tends to affect so many newly promoted clubs.
If nothing else, Walters will give the Clarets an added dimension out wide and in attack; his versatility is arguably his greatest trait of all. Regarded as a Stoke cult legend, supporters will be sad to see him leave the club after a fairly successful career but their loss is certainly Burnley’s gain.
Who knows, another addition to the Irish contingent could help Martin O’Neill’s men in their bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. As of July 9th, Ireland are priced at 2/1 to book their place according to international football betting odds and the national side may benefit if O’Neill selects the vast majority of Burnley stars. Walters has 14 goals in 49 international appearances and he will be desperate to add to his tally in the coming months.
It would be foolish to expect too much from Walters, but he still has a key role to play for Burnley over the next couple of years. If he regains his best form, the Irishman can help to keep Sean Dyche’s side in the Premier League and that has to be Burnley’s main aim.
In time, Walters’ impact and bond with his compatriots at Turf Moor could help Ireland in their bid to reach the 2018 World Cup. He may not start week in, week out, but Walters might just be the key to Burnley’s success next term.