When Tottenham Hotspur decided to sell up-and-coming right-back Kyle Walker-Peters to Southampton for £12m back in the summer of 2020, many involved with Spurs may well have wondered exactly why Daniel Levy decided to cash in on the defender.
Indeed, speaking to Football FanCast following the 25-year-old’s sale, former Tottenham defender Gary Mabbutt stated his belief that the north London side were making a grave error in parting with Walker-Peters, stating:
“I was a Kyle Walker-Peters fan. I thought, when he was coming through the ranks, he was a player who could stake a claim for that position. It didn’t really happen as I expected it was going to. There are a lot of things that managers will get to know that you’ll never know and the fans will never know.
“I thought it was strange that a player of his ability was leaving the club, but we were bringing other players in who it was clearly felt could do a job they were needing more of in that position. But I think he’s got a great future ahead of him, and for Southampton fans, I think he’s a great acquisition for them.”
And, considering just how impressive the £26m-rated full-back has been since joining Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, in addition to how much Spurs have struggled with right-backs over the past few seasons, the argument that it was a mistake for Levy to let the academy product leave the club is a very easy one to make.
Indeed, over his 32 Premier League appearances last season, Walk-Peters was in excellent form for Saints, helping his side keep six clean sheets, as well as making an average of 1.2 interceptions, 1.8 tackles, 1.3 clearances and winning 6.1 duels – at a success rate of 58% – per game.
In comparison, over Tottenham’s best-performing right-back’s 15 Premier League fixtures in 2021/22, Matt Doherty failed to help his side keep a single clean sheet, while he also made an average of just 0.9 interceptions, 1.2 tackles, 1.3 clearances and won 2.9 duels – at a success rate of 56% – per game.
The £50k-per-week Southampton talent also impressed going forwards last time out, scoring one goal, registering two assists and creating five big chances for his teammates, in addition to making an average of 0.8 key passes, taking 0.8 shots and completing 2.0 dribbles per fixture.
As such, it is not difficult to understand why Ian Wright also criticised Spurs’ decision to move the right-back – who Chris Miller dubbed “unreal” – on, with the Arsenal legend stating of the 25-year-old following his call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad earlier this year (via the Daily Mail):
“Kyle Walker-Peters. It’s great to see him [in the England squad]. I remember watching him at Tottenham and I’m thinking, ‘they got rid of him and brought in Serge Aurier?’ When I watched Serge for a couple of games I’m thinking, ‘I’m sorry, Kyle Walker-Peters is a better player.’
“They brought Emerson Royal in and I’m saying, ‘I’m sorry, [Walker-Peters is] a better player.’ And even with Doherty, who does great stuff going forward, I’ve watched Walker-Peters and I’m glad he’s got the call-up.
“I’m thinking why have Tottenham got rid of him when you see how he plays? Moving from Tottenham – would he have really wanted to? He probably had to because they wanted him out. He’s gone to Southampton – not so fashionable – and continued with great form and he’s been rewarded.”
Indeed, when taking into account the fact that Southampton reportedly placed a £40m asking price on the 25-year-old’s head this summer – 233% more than the £12m Spurs received for the defender just two years ago – coupled with just how impressive the England international has been on the South Coast, Levy must surely regret his decision to move Walk-Peters on when he did.