Kyle Walker is a man who dazzles and disappoints in equal measure, a polarising force that is often the subject of intense terrace and pub criticisms. It may therefore come as a slight surprise that Tottenham have seen fit to tie the young Englishman down to a new long-term contract that will keep him in North London until 2019.
For all the prudence of Daniel Levy, the audacity of this deal may come as a blot out of the blue.
The Premier League club have shown their loyalty here, so is it high time Kyle Walker started repaying the faith?
I am maybe a little bit harsh on Walker here, at 23 he is still in his defensive infancy and much of his naivety is to be expected at his age. However Walker is a man with bags of ability and so many Spurs fans appear more and more frustrated with his inability to translate this into consistent performances on the pitch.
Whether it is a question of footballing intelligence or not, Walker continues to show lax positional awareness and often directionless attacking bursts. For a man who picked up the PFA young player of the year gong in 2012, fans expected him to kick on rather than to rest on his laurels.
On his day Walker is central to everything good that Spurs produce, an ever-growing relationship with Townsend that offers Walker the opportunity to overlap down the right and feed the array of attacking talents that Spurs now possess. Even defensively Walker’s pace allows him to screen the backline, so when the high line is breached you can always expect to see a rampant Walker chasing back to cover.
Regardless of his shortcomings, I do think Spurs have got it right by offering the youngster a new deal. In the modern game there is a worrying shortage of top-level wingbacks and for that reason Spurs are right to show some loyalty to the youngster. Beyond Lahm and Cole there really isn’t a long list of world-class names. Fast becoming the undisputed England right-back and already one of the first names on the team sheet at Spurs, if the club play their cards right they could potentially have one of the worlds best on their hands.
I think this is the general feeling with Walker, a man with bags of potential but someone who needs the support of his club to help cultivate it. In AVB Spurs have one of the most highly respected coaches in the world and if anyone is going to help Walker become the player that we all hope he will become it is the Portuguese tactician.
Walker gave the response that fans were looking for when giving his reaction to the news on Spurs TV:
“I’m very thankful to the chairman for giving me an extension on the contract and hopefully I can repay him by putting in the performances on the pitch and getting that top-four spot we need,”
“When I first signed here, when I was 18, I always wanted to make it a long stay,” he said. “I’ve given my career to the club for [the next] five years now so hopefully there’s a lot of medals to come with that.”
The club have shown their loyalty and now in my opinion it is time Walker honoured that by kicking on. A mutually beneficial relationship, Spurs will offer the platform from which Walker can finally emerge as the world-class right back that he should be. It isn’t an over-exaggeration to suggest that Walker will be central to the club’s Champions League charge and I’m sure if he can help the club pick up a few medals on the way their faith will be wholly justified.
The importance of Walker is only evident when he isn’t there, Naughton is a capable understudy but like for like there is no comparison. When afforded space and freedom to run Walker is as dangerous a wide man as there is in the League, quick feet and an eye for goal he is the scourge of defences up and down the country. The area where he needs to work on, like much of the Spurs side, is in breaking down sides that place a premium on time and space. When pressed and harried the Englishman looks a totally different prospect, and this is some thing that AVB will have to work on.
Similarly his defensive resilience is often tested by sides that attack with comparable pace to Spurs, and Walker needs to quickly realise that this one size fits all approach doesn’t work. A dynamic and less one-dimensional Walker is a world-class option, something that Spurs need to realise fast.
Is it time for Kyle Walker to kick on?