If one player is to leave Mauricio Pochettino’s exciting project at Tottenham Hotspur this summer, it looks increasingly like it’ll be right-back Kyle Walker. Left out of the North London derby win over Arsenal, the 26-year-old has reportedly fallen out with the Argentine coach amid links with a move to Manchester City.
With that in mind, Spurs are believed to be ready to offer Kieran Trippier a new deal in order to ward off interest in the former Burnley man, who proved so impressive against the Gunners. Still, with elite right-backs coming at such a premium these days, Trippier alone surely won’t be enough for next season, considering the importance of that position to Spurs’ style of play.
As Pochettino fluidly moves between variations of a 3-4-3 and a 4-3-3, that berth is of particular importance and, while Trippier is noted for his expert delivery, doesn’t offer as much in the way of bombing up and down the flanks as Walker.
Replacing the latter will undoubtedly be a tough task. For any other side in the Premier League, it’d probably be a costly one too. However, within Spurs’ impressive array of youth talent, they boast a player who could indeed grow into his replacement.
Believe it or not, that player is called Kyle Walker-Peters. The 20-year-old has become one of the most important players in the club’s U23 side, earning rave reviews along the way. Having joined Tottenham back in 2013, the defender progressed through the youth ranks, making some early appearances for the U18 squad as far back as the back end of the 2012-13 campaign.
During his first full year on the books, Walker-Peters appeared 25 times for that age group, scoring one goal against Wolves in 2014, before helping the U18s win the Champions Cup and IMG Cup in Flordia a season later.
What makes the defender such an interesting prospect is his versatility across the backline. Primarily deployed at right-back, he can also operate on the left and his performance against Manchester United U23s earlier this season earned rave reviews.
We are delighted to announce that Kyle Walker-Peters has signed a new contract with the Club until 2019. pic.twitter.com/zInIQwmLFz
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 14, 2017
Handed a new deal back in February, it’s clear the England U20 international has a long-term future at White Hart Lane.
Walker-Peters isn’t merely your typical flying wing-back with little end product. Interestingly enough, he boasts a balance and a guile when on the ball, as well as a stocky physical frame, which make him hard to knock off the ball.
Curiously, the young defender is actually comparable in his style of carrying the ball forward with strength and pace to Arsenal and England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Indeed, with Tottenham’s tactical fluidity fast becoming the most effective facet to their game, there’s potential for Walker-Peters to not only overlap the right-winger but also cut inside when the forward stretches the opposition.
Considering the position in which he plays, as well as his name, there are always going to be comparisons with Kyle Walker. Still, teammate Danny Rose is perhaps a better parallel.
He’s far more comfortable in bringing the ball through the middle, offering more variety when keeping possession from deep defensive positions, as well as creating space for Spurs’ wonderfully varied attacking trident of Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Harry Kane.
So, there’s little doubting the fact he’s got all of the tools to succeed in the right-back role. Throwing him in at the deep end as a direct replacement for Walker may be unwise right away, though the aforementioned Trippier can operate in that role as Walker-Peters is blooded into the first-team.
The fact he’s not been loaned out as yet is a telling one. United States international DeAndre Yedlin has been and gone in recent years as Walker-Peters continues to develop and Pochettino’s track record in working with youngster make these exciting times on Hotspur Way.
With Kyle Walker likely to command a huge transfer fee this summer, Tottenham have their replacement already.