Ashley Barnes deal is part of future-proofing the club - Burnley boss Sean Dyche

Ashley Barnes
Ashley Barnes

Keeping the key players already at his disposal is as important as any transfer business moving forward, insists Sean Dyche.

After tying down striker Ashley Barnes to the summer of 2022, with the option for an additional 12 months, Dyche explained that the club continue to hold open talks with a variety of players, in view of their contract situation.

Jeff Hendrick is one, with the midfielder out of contract in the summer, along with Aaron Lennon, Phil Bardsley and Nahki Wells - currently on loan at QPR for the season.

Robbie Brady and Ashley Westwood are also up at the end of the season, although both have an option for another year in the club’s favour.

Asked if it is as important to tie the current squad down as it is bringing in new faces, Dyche said: “It has to be because it’s unlikely someone will give me an open chequebook to go and affect everything.

“We have to make sure we’re developing internally, no matter what the age of the player, it’s not relevant.

“It’s if they can keep moving, keep shifting, can they stay hungry for what the challenge is of being in the Premier League?

“That’s a massive thing, the edge that you need to play. You’ve got to retain the edge and that’s what we try here is keeping that edge all the time.”

Dyche added: “We always keep in good and open dialogue with the players and their agents.

“Some deals happen quicker and some slower and that is the way it is.

“We want to safeguard the club the best we can and that is another step in the right direction when we sign good players and players that have been historically good for us and continue to be good for us. It is good for the club to keep these players here.

“It’s about future-proofing from within not just the outside.

“It’s about adding layers in but also from within, you don’t want to be losing your best players.

“It’s very difficult, it’s a very difficult model to sort of make work, year after year after year.

“I’m not just saying it because it’s me, and the staff and players that do it, I’m just being honest.

“Most teams, not all, throw a very substantial amount of money at these things.

“I think the other week the chairman said we’ve got an £87 million net spend.

“We brought in half a billion quid in seven years. So I think £87m isn’t too bad.

“And we’ve still got all those assets on the pitch. We’ve done alright on the business side of things.”

Barnes has been with the club since January 2014, arriving from Brighton for £450,000 as Dyche’s first cash signing.

He has established himself as a forward to be feared at Premier League level, a far cry from his days in non league at Paulton Rovers.

Dyche accepts that route doesn’t necessarily give a player more determination to succeed at this level, but it hasn’t done Barnes any harm: “The thing is about hunger and desire is people pre-suppose that it’s people who have had it rough or had it tough to climb the ladder.

“But there’s plenty of people who haven’t had that and still have hunger and desire in amounts you’ve never known.

“Off the top of my head, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, people like that. I used to look at them and think ‘wow, these are hungry lads’ who have not had to go down to come back up.

Hunger and desire are hard to quantify.

“The fact is he probably appreciates the work he’s put in to get to where he’s got to but that’s a private thing.

“Knowing Barnesy I don’t think he’s too bothered what everybody else thinks.

“I think he gets on with what he thinks and that’s an important factor.”

Barnes’ game has developed significantly at Turf Moor, and Dyche added: “I think he understands ‘the game’ better.

“It’s not just his own game, he’s just 30 and you get to that rounded situation, it’s a good window because you’re mentally more secure in yourself, physically you should be in good shape and know how to look after yourself and all the strength and conditioning and all that.

“You’ve also got a knowledge depth that can allow you different ways of operating.

“When you’re playing naturally you’ll just do the right things through years of what you’ve learnt. I think he’s finding a healthy mixture, so are a number of players, not just him.”