14th July 2017
Many players leave and you instantly forget them. A few leave and, from then on, you’ll always dislike (‘hate’) them, for one reason or another. Sol Campbell for example.
Then there are those special few who depart with your good wishes and fond memories. The likes of Pat Jennings or Michael Dawson.
And Kyle Walker is one of those.
8 years (of which 2 spent on loan), 229 appearances, 4 goals, a huge profit. But it isn’t the numbers that Kyle will be remembered for.
He signed for us via a joint £9 million deal (with Kyle Naughton). Initially loaned back to Sheffield United, then loaned to QPR and Villa, it wasn’t until the 2011-12 Season that he hit his stride for Spurs.
And what a ‘stride’ it was. His searing pace and relentless effort, combined with immense physicality and fitness, established him as a fixture in the side. Firstly, under Redknapp, in our cavalier 4-4-2 (or 4-4-1-1) line-up, mainly teamed with Lennon down a blistering right flank. Then playing for AVB and Sherwood, before Pochettino arrived to add greater sophistication to Walker’s game, firstly in our 4-2-3-1, latterly in fluid 3-4-2-1 formations.
Despite the occasional gaffe, and a lack of elite-level crossing ability, he established himself as a fans’ favourite for Spurs, and as England’s first choice right back. It remains to be seen if Guardiola can get even more out of him in the next 2-3 Seasons. My guess is that Poch’s judgement is that Kyle has reached his ‘ceiling’. Whatever happens, I wish Kyle well.
For me, Kyle is a symbol of Spurs’ journey. His time with us bestrode an era that saw Spurs transition from ‘Top 4 hopefuls’ to Title-Challengers, from also-rans to contenders. And he always gave his all, whether playing under Have-a-go-Harry or Tactics-Tim. Never less than 100%, from first minute to last, he celebrated our goals with open-mouthed, bulging-veined passion. He wasn’t a badge-kisser. He genuinely cared.
I doubt we’ll ever know the whole truth behind this transfer. Perhaps Kyle agitated for it? More money, a move nearer Sheffield, a new challenge? Or perhaps Levy and Poch engineered it? A huge fee, a planned tactical shift, a judgment that Kyle’s very best days may soon be behind him? Bear in mind we’ll have metabolic data on Kyle’s performances over years that may have started to turn.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that this was one of those ‘good transfers’ where everybody gets what they want. Or think they want anyway. Kyle gets his move, Man City get their man, and Spurs get to move on.
Kyle signed for us for, say, £5 million in 2009. He’s played in our first team with distinction and passion for 6 years. And now we’ve sold him for £50 million, a tenfold profit (and apparently £45m of it paid in cash upfront).
Good luck Kyle. You deserve it.