James Tarkowski could have been lining up for Chelsea this season if Frank Lampard had his way.
According to The Athletic, Tarkowski was one of two players Lampard was keen to recruit in the summer to bolster his squad, with the idea being that the Burnley stopper would replace Fikayo Tomori in the Blues squad.
Tomori has subsequently moved on loan to AC Milan in this transfer window, with the Serie A leaders holding an option to make the deal permanent in the summer for a fee of £25m plus add-ons but the idea of bringing in Tarkowski was seemingly vetoed by the club's board.
Lampard was intent on moving on both Tomori and Antonio Rudiger, a player reportedly held in high regard by senior figures at the club, with Tarkowski a key part of his proposed defensive rebuild.
The report also details how of the five first-team signings made in the summer only Ben Chilwell was considered a player on the manager's own wishlist.
Declan Rice was another top target for Lampard, who brought in Edouard Mendy, Thiago Silva, Chilwell, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner in an expensive summer spending spree, while Hakim Ziyech was a player brought in earlier in the year under Lampard's watch.
The failure to extract the best from both Werner and Havertz as part of Chelsea's faltering campaign is seen as a big reason for Lampard's sacking at Stamford Bridge, with the duo's compatriot Thomas Tuchel the favourite to take the Blues' managerial reins.
Tarkowski, who was a top target for both Leicester City and West Ham United in the summer, has shown no sign of being prepared to put pen to paper on a new deal at Turf Moor but manager Sean Dyche has suggested he has no issue with the player's stance.
“Players have a different openness to them now with all the different media streams and different questions. He got asked questions and answered them what seems honestly," he said back in November in reference to Tarkowski's interview with the Daily Telegraph on his future.
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“All players have a value of worth and if he feels his has not been at the right level, that is sometimes the way it is.
“These situations sometimes occur. I’ve got no problem with Tarky whatsoever. He is a very, very good professional for us. He’s a top player in my opinion.
“I have said it for months now… I’m amazed he’s not involved in the England team, I think he should be.
“That [interview] doesn’t affect anything other than him working hard to give performances for himself, the team and the club and I don’t think that will change one bit.”