Cartilage Free Captain is again reviewing the Tottenham Hotspur first team players after the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. Up next: fullback Kyle Walker.
Appearances: 39 (33 PL, 1 FA, 3 Champions, 2 Europa)
Cards: 10 yellows
What went right?
Pretty much everything, I guess. Honestly, Walker had basically the exact season we expect from him. He was a consistent contributor to the team and his ability to cover so much ground on the right flank was a big reason why Tottenham’s mid-season switch to three at the back worked, even with Danny Rose missing a significant portion of the season.
Looking back through all the matches Walker played this season, I was able to find one that I recall him being specifically bad in, the loss to Monaco at Wembley. Otherwise, Walker was a model of consistency. He was particularly good during the congested holiday period where he put in several excellent performances against Hull, Burnley, Chelsea, West Brom, and Manchester City.
Walker remains one of the most athletic fullbacks in the Premier League and he used his pace to great effect once pushed further up the pitch into a wing back role. Walker’s defensive skills also continue to be underrated and he’s cut out many of the errors the plagued him early in his career.
In all honesty, this season just further cemented Walker’s spot as the best right back in the Premier League.
What went wrong?
Not much if we’re talking about exclusively on the pitch stuff. If there’s a criticism to be had of Walker, it’s going to be that his end product is still not great. It’s certainly the only part of his game that is not superior to that of his back-up Kieran Trippier. Walker never managed a game with multiple assists, something Trippier did twice, and his offensive production tailed off markedly from January to the end of the year.
Anything else that went wrong seems to have been behind the scenes. Based on various reports Walker had a late-season falling out with manager Mauricio Pochettino based on Walker’s fitness and ability to play multiple games in a week. Pochettino clearly wants to rotate his fullbacks and Walker seems to have an issue with the particular policy. That issue has now lead to a will-he-or-won’t-he saga with Walker and Manchester City.
Hopefully, nothing. Sure, there’s a case for selling Walker now, and £50 or £60 million is a hell of a lot of money for a fullback, but Walker is one of the club’s longest serving players and finding an adequate replacement for him is not going to be easy.
Walker won’t be 28 until the end of next season, so he’s probably got at least two if not three more seasons of peak performance in him. In two or three years he won’t have the value he has now, but Spurs don’t NEED to cash in on him. Not with the Champions League next year and a new stadium the year after that.
Best case scenario, Kyle Walker is wearing a Spurs shirt next year and not plying his trade in Manchester.
Rating: 4 Chirpys