Burnley captain Ben Mee is set to depart the Clarets this summer following their relegation to the Championship – with Everton and Aston Villa leading the race for his signature, according to The Mirror’s live blog (June 2, 4:07pm).
As first reported by The Athletic, Mee is primed to exit Turf Moor at the end of the month when his contract expires, which would end an 11-year association with the East Lancashire outfit.
The centre-back first joined Burnley on a loan deal from Manchester City in July 2011, penning a permanent deal with the club in January 2012.
Quiz: Can you name which club Burnley signed these 20 players from when they were in the Football League?
Mee featured regularly in both the Championship and Premier League for the Clarets, playing 376 times in all competitions – his final game looks set to have been a 2-0 defeat against Leicester City in March, where he suffered a season-ending injury.
With the 32-year-old heading for a Burnley departure, it is Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard who are both leading the chase for his services.
Both clubs have also been linked with fellow Clarets centre-back James Tarkowski – Mee however will likely command a lot less in terms of wages when it comes to negotiating a contract.
It has perhaps come as a surprise to many Burnley fans that Mee has opted to leave after 11 years at Turf Moor.
Plenty were expecting him to give one more year to the Clarets to try and get them back to the Premier League at the first opportunity.
However, there appears to be lots of Premier League interest in his signature and for that, you cannot blame Mee for wanting to still play in the top flight at this stage of his career.
Whilst it won’t have been an easy decision for the veteran centre-half, Mee has to put his family first and if that means securing a better contract in the Premier League, then so be it – if Everton and Villa really are the front-runners then both would be getting a very solid defender who will put his body on the line.