There is no doubt that the deal that sent Kyle Walker-Peters to Southampton for around £12m was a positive one with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg being sent in our direction for around £3m more (BBC).
The Dane has been one of our more successful transfers in recent memory having played all 3420 minutes of our 2020/21 Premier League season and has been a standout performer in an extremely underwhelming campaign (Transfermarkt.com).
However, with right-back being a noticeable position of weakness for us, I fear that Walker-Peters may be exactly what we need.
Walker-Peters’ departure last summer was largely overlooked because of Matt Doherty’s arrival. However, what seemed like a bargain at just £15m for a proven Premier League right-back has turned out to be a complete failure with the former Wolves man simply not fitting the system he was asked to play.
The other competition for right-back comes in the form of Serge Aurier and Japhet Tanganga with the pair looking like the first and second choice when available.
Unfortunately, it looks like we will enter the 2021/22 season with neither of the two available for selection.
Aurier has made clear of his ‘desire to return to PSG’ (L’equipe) and Tanganga looks set to miss out through injury with the 22-year-old suffering ankle ligament damage in May’s loss against Aston Villa that could keep him out for upwards of 2/3 months.
This would, barring any transfers, leave our right-back spot in the hands of Matt Doherty or youth team prospects such as Marcel Lavinier, a prospect which I’m sure would not fill many Spurs fans with hope for next season.
This makes it clear just how valuable Walker-Peters would have been for this team with the 24-year-old having a breakout season at Southampton, racking up 3 assists and 10 clean sheets in 35 appearances for the Saints (Transfermarkt.com).
This has no doubt driven the price of the Englishman right up and if we wanted to re-sign our former academy man it would cost far more than the £12m we let him go for just under a year ago (transfermarkt.com).
I know that all I have done is praise him so far but I’ll be the first to admit that Walker-Peters limited appearances for Spurs were far from convincing, notably a fairly humiliating performance against Ousmane Dembele on an otherwise glorious night in Barcelona and a comical handball in our embarrassing FA Cup 3rd round exit to Crystal Palace in 2019.
However, since being handed his first-team debut by Mauricio Pochettino in August 2017 the young Englishman showed glimpses of the player he could be in his 24 appearances for Spurs.
Most notably with his two assists in our memorable 5-4 final day defeat of Leicester and our 5-0 win over Bournemouth on boxing day 2018 where he notched a hat-trick of assists in just 35 minutes (transfermarkt.com).
The 2019/20 season looked set to be Walker-Peters breakout year with then first-choice Keiran Trippier joining Atletico Madrid that summer Pochettino handed the then 22-year-old 3 starts and 242 minutes in our first three premier league games (transfermarkt.com).
However, a thigh injury and the dismissal of Pochettino in early November proved problematic for the right-back. Jose Mourinho was quick to disregard Walker-Peters and that was essentially the beginning of the end for Kyle’s Spurs career with the Englishman securing a loan move to Southampton just two months later.
I think Kyle Walker-Peters is another classic example of what could have been. Although given chances in cup games and the odd league game he never had the opportunity to show consistency and cement his spot as our first-choice right-back.
His success following an extended run of games as the first-choice right-back for Southampton between January 2020 and May 2021 just goes to show that we had a young and talented Premier League player on our hands but simply failed to give him the right opportunities.
The decision to sell him was, in my opinion, rushed and his performances over the last year and a half make this painstakingly clear, compounding the misery of our current right-back dilemma.
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