The debate about Kyle Walker is an interesting one; for every person that lavishes praise on the young Tottenham full back there is another that dismisses him entirely. It is safe to say that the Englishman divides opinion, but for me the criticism he continues to get is a little unwarranted.
At 23 Walker is one of the rising stars of the Premier League. Already a previous recipient of the coveted PFA Young Footballer of the Year award, it is clear that many within the game already have incredibly high hopes for him. Technically gifted and with blistering pace, everything is there for Walker to become one of the best and to be a star for both club and country long into the future.
This is something that no doubt frustrates fans though. Walker is one of these individuals that is so highly talented that it becomes a burden even to himself, without the footballing intelligence or experience to back up his abilities he is often susceptible to calamity. His critics see him as an over glamourized winger, someone that is very good going forward but defensively lacking. The point being that Spurs already have Lennon out wide, do they really need another roadrunner?
In seasons past this criticism was largely justified, Walker on countless occasions being caught out by his own attacking eagerness and in many instances being made to pay. Even now he sometimes only has his pace to thank for his over-commitment in attack and subsequent ability to get back and cover.
Spurs have to live with this, taking the brilliance with the inept. My opinion is that Walker could be one of the best, but naturally this will take a lot of time and patience. Defenders don’t mature in the main till their late 20’s but with Walker even this season we are starting to see an improvement. The Englishman appears much more positionally aware, more selective in his runs and on the whole a lot more adept in his role. He has an end product to put a lot of teammates to shame and of course AVB understand the need to give his right back the freedom to attack. Less the kamikaze forays of years gone by, we are now seeing a more selective and targeted approach from the blossoming fullback.
Some might argue that Spurs simply don’t have the time to keep indulging Walker and that someone with a bit more discipline needs to be found in the short-term. My question is who?
There is a scarcity in world football of top level full backs, hence why someone like Lahm or even Ashley Cole are held in such high esteem. You can count the number of world-class options on your hand, and this is the whole problem. The talent pool is small and those available are expensive, Spurs may hope for something better but in the end they need to nurture what they have already.
It seems odd that there is such impatience with Walker, yet a completely illogical belief that Luke Shaw is already the real deal. He may play on the opposite side but the comparison is baffling. For me he shows the same signs of promise of Walker but if anything at 18 he is even further away from becoming the established full back that Spurs desire.
Whether Spurs like it or not there is really no alternative to Walker, Kyle Naughton is a class below and if Spurs really have visions for the future their only hope is to put faith in youth.
It may be painful and it may be rocky, but in the end Spurs will be the beneficiaries of this investment.
Spend £20m plus or persevere with what you have? The choice seems pretty obvious to me.