What to Expect From Kyle Walker With Manchester City
After a long courtship this summer, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola finally has his right-back in Kyle Walker, who signed for £50 million, a world record for a defender.
The 27-year-old will look to live up to his price tag under Guardiola, to whom wing-back play is crucial.
Last season, the ranks of Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta were not dynamic enough for Pep, and that saw both leave on free transfers at the end of this past season.
While Pep may want another player to back up Walker, he has landed a significant upgrade in Walker, who was arguably the best right-back in the Premier League last season.
Walker's rise to the top has been well documented. After a successful loan at Aston Villa, he became a significant part of Tottenham's team in the 2011-12 season. While his playing time has fluctuated over the years, he took back the starting job in fall of 2015 and has not looked back; in fact, he's been exceptional.
He's matched his wicked pace and decent passing ability with better overall judgment and positioning, something that won't show up on the stat sheet, and is better represented by his 200-plus appearances in England's top division. His developed maturity has turned him to a complete right-back, which is what Guardiola had been searching for.
Granted, this does not mean that Walker will perfectly gel into lifestyle at City. For one, Guardiola has been known for his past conflicts with players, and Walker may not find the legendary manager as friendly or pleasant as Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.
For two, Walker may find that he was thriving thanks to the style of play he played under Pochettino.
His best years so far have came under the Argentinian manager, and Walker had a tendency to depend on his pace and physical prowess in years past, not to mention the weight that comes with the tagline of, "the most expensive defender ever."
An Obvious Upgrade
Despite any possible drawbacks, it seems impossible for Walker to be any worse than Sagna and Zabaleta were this past season.
Not to say that they were all that poor, but they simply didn't cut it, which makes sense considering they are 34 and 32, respectively.
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Overall, Walker should be good enough to fill the role. At worst, he won't be a key player and will just be a weaker point of the team. That may make City fans and some of the front office in Manchester angry, but the price is relatively appropriate for the best right-back in England.
On the other hand, Walker may be a revelation under Guardiola, who may be able to mold him into the aware and forward-thinking back who will provide a threat from out wide and a speedy connection from the defense to the attack.
Either way, City didn't make a bad move in taking a chance on Walker.