By Peter Lynch

30th Mar, 2023 | 3:10pm

Everton star James Tarkowski proves key to safety, rated among best Premier League defenders this season

James Tarkowski has proven to be one the best signings of the Premier League season, with the Everton defender shining at the back for the Toffees since his summer move from Burnley.

The Turf Moor outfit were destined to lose their centre-back upon their relegation to the Championship, with a handful of clubs eyeing Tarkowski as the perfect player to help keep things tight at the back.

But Everton won the race, landing his signature on a free transfer, in what has proven to be a phenomenal bit of business.

With a rating of 6.95, Tarkowski is placed eighth in WhoScored’s 10 best rated defenders in the Premier League so far this season.

Moreover, he sits atop the list for blocks in the league this season with 64, almost double that of Max Kilman (33) in second, according to the official Premier League website.

Further proof of his quality comes with clearances, where he sits joint-top of the list with Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen, with both on 152, according to Sofascore.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

Making the feats more impressive is the fact that the Toffees defender has played every minute possible in the league this season, according to the official Premier League website.

And even more impressive within that stat is that Tarkowski is only one of six players to achieve that feat, and only one of two outfield players alongside Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse, with four goalkeepers also playing the full 2,520 minutes.

Given Everton’s worrying position in the Premier League table, where they sit just two points off the bottom three, it is certainly surprising to see Tarkowski among such esteemed company.

He makes the top 10 best rated defender list alongside the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko, Diogo Dalot and Kieran Trippier, all of whom are playing for clubs in the top five of the table.

Tarkowski is also ahead of world-class centre-back and Merseyside rival Virgil van Dijk, who admittedly isn’t having his best season in a Liverpool shirt.

Along with his ever-present league campaign, the Toffees hero also played 90 minutes in the club’s only FA Cup encounter, and 26 minutes in the League Cup, showing just how much his club have relied on him this season.

Frank Lampard may not have gotten much right during his spell in the Everton dugout, but bringing Tarkowski to Goodison Park was a stroke of magic, and one that Toffees fans should be thanking their former manager for constantly.