Can Matej Vydra finally prove himself in the Premier League with Burnley?

Can Matej Vydra finally prove himself in the Premier League with Burnley?

The Czech Republic international has arrived from Derby County for an undisclosed fee.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

With an average of a goal every three games at Championship level, Matej Vydra has made a name for himself in the second tier of English football.

2017-18 was his best campaign yet as 21 goals in 40 league games won him the Golden Boot and a spot in the Championship Team of the Year for the second time in his career. Such prolific form has encouraged Burnley manager Sean Dyche to snap him up on a three-year deal but can Vydra prove himself at the top level?

The Udinese years - of sort

Vydra's ability first came to light when he moved on loan to Watford for the 2012-13 season following a desperate two years at Udinese after he left his native Czech Republic. 20 goals in 41 games fired The Hornets into the playoffs but an ankle injury forced him off midway through the final defeat to Crystal Palace.

His performances caught the attention of West Brom who snapped him up on another loan deal the following season. It was Vydra's first taste of Premier League football but not a healthy one. Just three goals in 23 games did little to impress so he moved back to Watford and the Championship the following season.

It was deja-vu as Vydra again rattled in the goals against second tier sides. Yet this time his 16 goals were to fire Watford into the top-flight and earn him a permanent contract and finally a move from Udinese.

However, he lost his place in the squad which was the start of a dismal two seasons and another failure at Premier League level. Spells at Reading and Derby County followed but he scored just 14 in 75 games and only eight league goals.

With a potential move on the cards, the striker responded by letting his feet do the talking. Last season saw a rejuvenated Vydra clean up with club and league awards after a prolific season.

Can he take the next step in his career?

At 26, Vydra should be entering the peak years of his career. Yet question marks remain at the highest level. He has a record of three goals in 24 games across three seasons in the Premier League, whilst he has scored only five goals in 20 internationals for Czech Republic. In the Belgian, Czech and Italian top divisions he has netted just four in 17 matches, all of which came in his native country.

Statistically, he has 70 goals in 234 second tier games at an average of a goal every three games. At the top level, including international matches, he has netted 12 goals in 61 games at an average of a goal every five matches. In six seasons at that level, he has only played more than 15 games in a campaign on one occasion.

The first task for Vydra at Burnley is to break into the first eleven. He offers a different threat to the physical prowess of Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes and Sam Vokes, blessed with more flair and creative ability with the ball at the feet.

There is no doubting Vydra knows how to find the goal - you don't get into the Championship Team of the Year twice in five seasons without such ability. Yet perhaps a hint that Dyche is unsure of how successful this signing will be could be evidenced by the fact a potential fourth year of the deal is just an option in what is undoubtedly a short contract for a player of Vydra's age.
 

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