Where has it all gone wrong for Aaron Lennon at Burnley?
Background image: Burnley Football Club, CC BY 2.0
Aaron Lennon made only his second start for Burnley since September during Saturday’s FA Cup win over Peterborough United, playing a full 90 minutes for only the third time this season.
The 32-year-old had a hand in three goals on the day, one of which was a direct assist, but it remains to be seen if this is a renaissance of form or merely a false dawn.
Lennon’s two-year spell with the Clarets has been an overall disappointment and his future is uncertain due to an expiring contract this summer. It’s hard to see a new deal coming his way as he’s been woefully short of form and playing time.
Gamble has backfired
It was a big call for Sean Dyche to sign Lennon in January 2018. The wide-man spent three years at Everton, making 77 appearances, only contributing 15 goals. Lennon struggled in his last two seasons, failing to score a single goal and making only three assists in the 26 league games - so it was a surprise that Burnley pounced.
The risk hasn't really been rewarding either as Lennon’s output hasn’t improved at Turf Moor. The 32-year-old was once a pacey winger who could beat his marker and whips balls into the box with ease, but he’s completely fallen by the wayside in recent years.
- 2017/18 [Premier League] 14 appearances, 0 goals, 2 assists
- 2018/19 [Premier League] 16 appearances, 1 goal, 1 assist
- 2019/20 [Premier League] 12 appearances, 0 goals, 0 assists
Lennon made 10 successful dribbles [0.71-per-game] in 2017/18 [53% success rate], seven successful dribbles [0.44-per-game] in 2018/19 [47% success rate] and has only one successful dribble [0.08-per-game] to his name this season [20% success rate].
The former England international has declined year after year at Burnley and has less creative influence with each passing season, too. Lennon whipped in 6/28 accurate crosses [21%] in 2017/18 and 3/20 [13%] in 2018/19 while making 1/5 accurate crosses [20%] this season.
With only 16 chances created in 42 league games for the Clarets, Lennon is no longer cut out for the Premier League. But what are his options if he leaves Burnley?
Should Lennon drop a division?
If Lennon isn’t considering retirement he may have to drop a division to prolong his career in England. He isn’t scoring or taking on Premier League defenders and barely creates chances for his teammates. It’s clear he’s not up to the level required, so a Championship move may be next.
Sheffield Wednesday could be a destination for Lennon as they’re in the market for another winger, as per Football Insider. Nottingham Forest may also be an option for the Englishman, who could be an improvement on Albert Adomah [21 league games, two goals, one assist].
Swansea City could do with an upgrade on Bersant Celina [22 league games, two goals, one assist] while Millwall could improve on Connor Mahoney [21 league games, one goal, three assists]. Hull City need better cover for Jarrod Bowen & Kamil Grosicki than Josh Bowler [21 league games, one goal, zero assists] and Preston could do with extra help as Billy Bodin [15 league games, two goals, zero assists] is struggling.
It’s unlikely Lennon’s contract will be extended at Burnley as he’s racked up less than 600 minutes of playing time this season, but it remains to be seen if he’ll leave in January or run his deal down until July.
The 32-year-old wasn’t afraid to leave Everton for Burnley in 2018, but will he leave the Premier League if his only suitors are in the Championship in 2020?