Burns, who averages 42.5 in 45 first-class matches, would have joined the county as a Kolpak player owing to his ancestry, according to an exclusive report in The Bristol Evening Post.
The Post says it understands that Somerset had agreed a deal for Burns, aged 25, to play in all three formats next summer.
However Burns’ call-up to replace the injured Mitch Marsh in the Boxing Day Test against India has now put that prospective deal in jeopardy. Australia are due to tour England next summer, so Burns would be unlikely to be available for most of the season.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann, Burns’ former coach at Queensland, told Cricinfo that Burns’ flexibility was a key factor in the decision to call him up to the Test squad. Burns, who has previously played county cricket for Leicestershire, has scored first-class hundreds while opening and batting at numbers 3, 4 and 5.
Lehmann said: “He can fit anywhere from 1 to 6. That’s the advantage with Joe, he can bat in the middle order or up high. We’ve got some flexibility there. It depends on which way we want to go.”
With Somerset missing the experience of Nick Compton, Craig Kieswetter and Alviro Petersen next summer, that flexibility would have been invaluable.
There have been further reports on Twitter that Matt Maynard, Somerset’s Director of Cricket, is also targeting an overseas batsman who has played at Somerset in the past, while rumours continue unabated on social media that Kevin Pietersen could yet be a shock signing.
Matt himself has tweeted that he doesn’t expect to make any announcements just yet and said he is still looking.
Burns would undoubtedly have been a huge asset to the club and if Matt is targeting players of that calibre, the New Year could be very interesting indeed.
UPDATE: Joe Burns made his Test debut in the Boxing Day Test against India at Melbourne, scoring 13 in India’s first innings.