Kyle Walker is set to become the most expensive British player in history, as he swaps White Hart Lane for the Etihad Stadium.
As revealed by BBC Sport, Manchester City have had a bid of £45 million plus £3 million in add-ons accepted by Tottenham Hotspur for the 27-year-old right-back. Walker has long been linked with a move to the blue half of Manchester and speculation intensified when Spurs handed Kieran Trippier a new contract.
The reported fee for Walker has raised eyebrows though, and comes a year after Manchester City paid a similar amount for his England colleague, John Stones.
Only a few years ago, £50 million would have bought a world-class striker – think Edinson Cavani or Radamel Falcao. Now, however, thanks to subsequent television deals, such amounts are now commonplace in the transfer market.
Walker is a solid defender who forced his way into the national side with a string of consistent performances for Spurs. He and Danny Rose were fundamental to their success last season, operating as wing-backs who were equally important in defence and attack. But if you were to ask Tottenham supporters which of their players are indispensable, it is unlikely that Walker would make the top five.
He is not a game-changer like Harry Kane, Dele Alli or Cristian Eriksen.
Pep Guardiola clearly identified the full-back positions as an area of his squad that needed strengthening. He has released Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna, three players who were part of an ageing defence that leaked too many goals which undermined their Premier League and Champions League campaigns.
It is easy to see why Walker fitted the bill. The former Sheffield United man is renowned for his lung-busting runs up and down the right wing. He is confident on the ball – a pre-requisite for Guardiola – and has a reliable final delivery. He is certainly an upgrade on the previous incumbents.
Walker will be a solid performer for City and he is bound to learn from a manager of Guardiola’s stature. But a fee rising to £50 million sounds exorbitant. Perhaps the failed pursuit of Dani Alves, who opted for Paris St-Germain instead of Manchester, forced the former Barcelona boss to raise his bid for Walker, with only a month to go until the start of the new season. It shows that money really is no object for some clubs in this modern age.
This deal suits all parties. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is a notoriously hard negotiator and will have driven a hard bargain over Walker. The transfer fee they have received can be reinvested into Mauricio Pochettino’s playing squad. Trippier was a more than able deputy last term and if his impressive form continues, Walker will not be a major loss.
City meanwhile, have landed their main target but had to pay over the odds. However, if Walker, who had been eyeing a move to the Etihad, helps them win the Premier League title next season, they will argue it was money well spent.