As impressive as Kyle Walker’s World Cup performances as a central defender had been, there was always a lingering doubt that his inexperience in his new role would cost England a goal at some stage.
Unfortunately, that proved to be the case at the most crucial stage of the Three Lions’ World Cup campaign as the Manchester City man lost concentration and positioned himself in slightly the wrong position to allow Croatia’s Ivan Perisic to level the World Cup semi-final.
The Inter winger finished well but Walker should have snuffed out the danger. However, that was the only blot on another manful performance at centre-half from the man valued at £45m by Transfermarkt.
His incredible speed bailed England out on a number of occasions, but 13 clearances are testament to a man who generally stood strong when the Croatian barrage came in the second half as Gareth Southgate’s men dropped further and further back.
The way he has adapted to the role, which Southgate claims is not too dissimilar in terms of the positions he finds himself in a lot of the time, should give Pep Guardiola food for thought ahead of the title defence next season.
Fielding Walker at centre-half in a 3-5-2 would allow City to get Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus on the pitch at the same time, without the fear that they would be caught out by speed on the counter attack and the added bonus is that John Stones is now used to playing alongside him in that position.
Even fielding Walker at centre-half in a 4-3-3 would allow City to defend 2v2 on the counter attack with more bravery, with the pace to cope with counter attacks.