Cartilage Free Captain is again reviewing and ranking the top 15 youth prospects at Tottenham Hotspur to see which players have the best potential to follow players like Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, and Nabil Bentaleb into the Tottenham first team. The rules for inclusion are as follows:
- The player had to be 21 or under on January 1, 2015
- The player cannot have seen significant match time with Tottenham's first team
Next on our list is 18-year-old fullback Kyle Walker-Peters.
Who is he?
Kyle Walker-Peters first came to our attention for having a name that started with "Kyle Walker", and hilariously, also being a right back. That was a couple of years ago, when he was a first-year academy player and we didn't know much about him. In the last couple of years, we've gotten to see what he can do in FA Youth Cup and U-21 Premier League action, and it looks like he has just as much natural talent as the first team player he shares 2/3 of a name and a position with.
Recently, Walker-Peters has been given a chance to play with the first team in friendlies. He went on the club's post-season tour of Asia and got some minutes with the senior squad. Last season, he split his time between the Under-18s and Under-21s, playing 12 times for the former and 13 for the latter. He's also made appearances for the England Under-18s.
He's also a local lad, having grown up not far from Spurs' training facility in Enfield.
What can he do?
KWP actually started as a striker, like many top youth players, but was quickly converted into an attacking fullback. He's retained some of those striker's instincts in his new position -- he scored twice in 13 games in the Under-21 Premier League and scored in the FA Youth Cup too. He's spent most of his time at right back, but can play left back as well.
There are times when Walker-Peters still looks quite a bit like a teenager and a bit like a striker playing right back. He doesn't seem to be totally switched on all of the time defensively and he does a bit more light jogging than you want to see from a fullback. But his best runs, crosses, covering runs and tackles are absolutely spectacular. It's highly unlikely that he's lazy -- he just needs some more coaching and experience. Forwards who get converted to defender are always going to come along slower than true attacking players, and any struggles he's had so far are not an indication that he will not become a first team player.
As you can imagine, individual highlights of right backs are a bit sparse, which is probably why KWP is this far down our list despite being so highly regarded by those who cover Spurs youth teams and making the first team squad for friendlies. You can find highlights of a few games he featured in here. He's No. 2, almost always playing right back.
Where can he go?
At right back, Walker-Peters has no easily defined ceiling. Based on his best performances and his physical ability, there's no reason he can't become a first choice fullback for a very good Premier League team three-to-four years from now. However, we have a pretty limited sample of games against high-level competition to draw from, and it's not like he's consistently dominant.
This age 18/19 season, in which Walker-Peters steps up into the Under-21s full time, is going to be a very important one for his development. If we do these prospect rankings again in a year or two, there's a very good chance he could move up to the top three or drop off the list altogether. We're light on information at the moment, but we're about to get a lot more.