Tottenham Hotspur have suffered from a number of transfer gaffes under the stewardship of chairman Daniel Levy over the years, and the sale of Kyle Walker-Peters could well be his worst of recent times.
There will be other worthy contenders, such as splashing an eye-watering £55m on both Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso, only for them to be banished out on loan after three years of underwhelming service, or failing to replace the creative juices of Christian Eriksen.
However, in the two-and-a-bit years that Walker-Peters has departed, he has proven Spurs wrong in their decision to sell him so cheaply.
Back in the summer of 2020, Levy sanctioned the 25-year-old’s exit to Southampton for a measly sum of £12m after the Hotspur Way gem impressed on loan there, whilst Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg arrived in north London in the other direction for £15m.
A £3m outlay on the Danish powerhouse certainly looked to be impressive business at the time, though now, it appears to be a case of ‘what could have been’ over the right-back for Tottenham.
Capable of playing on either flank, the versatile full-back has emerged as one of the Saints’ standout players over the past 18 months or so – manager Ralph Hasenhuttl described him as a “role model” and a ‘complete package’ to the Daily Echo back in January last year.
Walker-Peters finished the 2021/22 Premier League campaign as the Austrian’s third-best performer, as per WhoScored figures, managing an average rating of 6.84 and that form has continued into the new season, where he currently ranks among Southampton’s top four players.
The 25-year-old has particularly caught the eye going forward as, when compared to his positional peers across Europe, he ranks inside the top 6% for progressive carries (7.36), the top 7% for completed dribbles (1.62) and the top 10% for touches in the opposition’s box (3.03) per 90, via FBref.
An average of at least 1.8 tackles, 1.3 clearances and 0.9 interceptions per game, via WhoScored, across the duration of his career so far on the south coast also suggests that he’s a more than reliable defensive option too.
Tottenham have truly struggled in the right-back role ever since Kieran Trippier left for Spain in 2019 and Walker-Peters, perhaps in hindsight, could have been the long-term solution, only now he plies his trade for another team.
He only managed to play 24 times for his boyhood club, hardly enough to gauge whether or not he’d be able to make it and now, he’s been capped twice by England and is thought to be worth in the region of €25m (£22.4m), as per CIES Football Observatory, which only further highlights how poor of a call Levy and co made.
An 86.6% increase in his transfer worth in a mere two years is a worrying trend if you’re Spurs, though for Southampton, they’ll be buzzing by the prospect of either cashing in on him for mega profit or having a trustworthy right-back, who was once dubbed “a big talent” by talkSPORT’s Alex Crook, for many more years to come.
The likes of Emerson Royal and Matt Doherty have never really been up to scratch, even leading to manager Antonio Conte’s doubts over their ability back in January this year.
Walker-Peters would have perhaps thrived under the Italian in this expansive, wide-focused wing-back system and as such, it only compounds the misery over his exit.
So forget your Ndombeles, the decision to sell the England international for a paltry £12m is looking like one of Levy’s worst blunders in recent years.