Ireland midfielder Jeff Hendrick appears to be on his way out of Burnley after failing to agree on a new contract to stay at Turf Moor.
Hendrick, along with three other players at the club, was left out of Burnley’s 5-0 defeat to Manchester City over the contract issues and a number of media outlets have reported that he has played his last game for the Clarets.
The 28-year-old joined Burnley for £10.5 million from Derby County in 2016. He has made 139 appearances for the club, scoring 10 goals, but now it looks as though he’ll be facing a new challenge next season.
Hendrick has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs, including Newcastle, as well a potential move to Scottish champions Celtic.
As a free agent, Hendrick would be a strong signing for many clubs given his international and Premier League experience as well as his ability to play in a number of positions across the midfield.
The most exciting move, however, for the Irish midfielder would undoubtedly be one to Serie A. Hendrick has been linked with Roma, but more importantly AC Milan in recent weeks.
At 28, Hendrick, should the Italian interest remain firm, has a brilliant opportunity to try and prove himself at one of Europe’s most iconic clubs in a league that very few Irish players have ever ventured to.
When the AC Milan interest was first reported, eyebrows were raised by many. However, should Hendrick end up at the San Siro, it’s likely he would be given a strong chance at cementing a spot in the first team.
It’s well known that Milan are no longer the European force they used to be, with the club currently sitting seventh in Serie A and haven’t reached the Champions League in seven years. However, the move would still be the most exciting of the apparent options for Hendrick’s next club.
Milan currently have eight midfielders on their books, and have implemented a 4-5-1 in their last five games, according to Transfermarkt.com. Meaning not only is their room for Hendrick in the squad, but there is a formation that suits his style of play.
Hendrick’s strengths are his work rate and hard running in midfield and although he could add more goals and assists to his game, he has always been a player that managers admired.
Despite being set to leave Burnley, The Athletic reported that Hendrick and Dyche always had an excellent relationship. The midfielder was also a key man with Ireland under Mick McCarthy, playing every game in Euro qualifying.
Milan likely see Hendrick as an experienced and versatile midfield option who, crucially, would be available on a free transfer (the club spent €106 million during last year’s summer window) and add numbers in the position.
For Hendrick, the move could represent a chance to freshen up his career and provide him with a new challenge in a league that could cater to his style of play.
At international level, he’ll be in for a new challenge under Stephen Kenny who he will be opening can revitalise his Irish career after a number of underwhelming years and a move to a completely new environment at club level could be exactly what’s needed.
His future lies away from Turf Moor and the lure of staying in the Premier League will certainly be tempting, but if the opportunity to move to AC Milan arises, Hendrick should unquestionably grab it with both hands.