FORMER Claret Paul Robinson says James Tarkowski is a “top player” amid Newcastle United’s reported interest in the defender.

The Magpies have been linked with a move for Tarkowski – who is out of contract this summer – in the January transfer window.

The North East outfit are looking to bolster their squad following their takeover by a Saudi Arabian-backed group, which was confirmed last week after a £305 million deal was signed off by the Premier League.

Robinson shared a dressing room with Tarkowski during his time at Turf Moor and believes his former team-mate would be a big asset for Newcastle.

"I can see that happening,” he told Football Insider. “I know Tarky from my time at Burnley. Let me tell you, he is a top player.

“The fact that he has not signed a new contract at Burnley says a lot.

"He is taking a risk because if he got a bad injury in the last few months of his contract, but it is clear that he does not want to stay.

“I know for a fact that the club have offered him a great deal. He’s not signing so clearly his head has been turned and he wants out.

“If Newcastle want him, what an opportunity that is for him. Tarky is a top centre-half - he would definitely do a job for them over the next 12 to 18 months.”

Tarkowski's former club Brentford would be entitled to a hefty sell-on fee if the defender leaves Turf Moor in January.