Amid reports, including those published in the Daily Mail and The Times, of a move to Manchester City for a fee around £50 million, it might come as a surprise to some that Tottenham Hotspur could comfortably lose one of their top performing players last season to a domestic rival. However, given the size of the reported fee, and with both short-term and long-term replacements already at the club, the loss of Kyle Walker would not be as disastrous, especially if the money was reinvested.
Much has been made of the attacking role of the Pochettino full-back; exemplified by Danny Rose and Walker during the Argentine head coach’s tenure as Spurs boss. There is no question that Walker’s performances have come on leaps and bounds since Pochettino arrived in the summer of 2014, but this should not necessarily mean that he is irreplaceable.
Indeed, a fee in the region of £50 million would show the premium put on English players, but with a core of young talent, that includes Dele Alli, the aforementioned Danny Rose, and Eric Dier, Spurs are not hard-pressed to meet the homegrown players quota – unlike Manchester City.
£50 million is still a lot of money in today’s transfer market, and Sky Sports report that Spurs have registered an interest in Ricardo Pereira – another attacking full-back, who would appear to be a like-for-like replacement for less than half Walker’s fee (the release fee quoted is £22 million).
It is thus not unreasonable to think that Spurs could actually improve their squad through the sale of Walker who is, at 27 years of age, by no means old, but still one of the most senior players in the current Tottenham squad. The purchase of Pereira would – if the Portugeuse international lives up to expectations – mean that the loss of Walker would be minimised.
But perhaps Mauricio Pochettino will not look to bring in anyone at all. After all, the performances of Kieran Trippier have been sufficient in many matches this season, including key games such as the North London Derby, and while Trippier’s superior end product has been the focus of much praise this season, his defensive capability has also improved markedly since he joined Spurs.
Make no mistake, Walker is – by a fair distance – a superior player, with his pace and power providing key assets to counter-attacking play that has proved so successful at Spurs over the past three years, but Trippier is by no means a bad alternative. This is exacerbated further when Spurs’ dominance over most other teams in the league is considered. The Lilywhites dropped points in just five of the 24 games against the bottom 12 sides.
Their home performances were, for the most part, utterly dominant, only dropping points against Leicester and Liverpool. It would be naive to think that losing Walker and replacing him with Trippier would suddenly cause a massive downturn in performances; not only is the current crop of players the best in recent years, but Trippier is also a decent player, whose confidence will have grown even more after his England debut against France recently.
Having said that, Trippier is no long-term replacement. Instead, the likes of Kyle Walker-Peters – an incredible name coincedence – will undoubtedly make the first team relatively soon. His fantastic performances were key in the England success at the under-20’s World Cup, and he has been an exciting prospect for some time now, as noted by Spurs youth-team expert Chris Miller.
It would not be surprising to see Walker-Peters get first-team minutes next season, even if they’re limited to cup games, but his role would take on added importance if Walker was to leave. Perhaps the departure of Walker could act as the catalyst for one of England’s brightest young talents to emerge into the starting line-up. That would be no bad thing.
Of course, Walker hasn’t left until the signing is announced by the respective clubs, so for now he is very much a Spurs player. With City reportedly lining up other signings, with Dani Alves linked by BBC Sport, perhaps Walker will not leave at all. If he were to depart, the move would not be disastrous for Tottenham, who could rebuild quickly afterwards.
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