Kyle Walker may regret Tottenham Hotspur exit

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JUNE 10: Kyle Walker of England in action during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Scotland and England at Hampden Park National Stadium on June 10, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JUNE 10: Kyle Walker of England in action during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Scotland and England at Hampden Park National Stadium on June 10, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) /

Money isn’t everything, and that may prove to be the case for Kyle Walker if his move from Tottenham Hotspur to Manchester City doesn’t go as expected.

The grass is always greener elsewhere.  New is always better. A change will do you good. Any of these sayings could be associated with right back Kyle Walker completing a move from Tottenham Hotspur to Manchester City this summer. The switch was hardly a surprise for a variety of reasons, but it has nevertheless been a transaction widely debated by analysts and fans since it became official on July 14.

On paper, Walker signing for City made all kinds of sense for his now and his future. The 27-year-old currently in his physical prime did well to establish himself as one of the best right backs in the Premier League throughout his tenure at White Hart Lane, he won PFA Young Player of the Year honors for 2011-12 and he was twice named to the PFA Team of the Year from 2012 through 2017. It’s safe to assume we’ve probably already seen Walker at his best, meaning July 2017 was as good a time as any for him to dip his toes into the transfer market.

The biggest beneficiary from all of this, of course, is Walker’s bank account. Tottenham are unable, or maybe more so unwilling depending on your view of things, to match the wages offered by the likes of City, Manchester United, Chelsea and the other giants of world football, and Walker likely saw the writing on the wall following the 2016-17 season.

He’ll make more money than ever before, City got their new first-choice full back who wasn’t technically their first choice on the market (looking at you, Dani Alves) and Spurs get to cash a check worth around £53 million. Everybody wins, right?

Maybe, but maybe not. For starters, Tottenham, not City, have been involved in title chases in each or the past two seasons. Spurs finished comfortably ahead of the blue portion of Manchester in the league table this past May, manager Mauricio Pochettino is more acclimated to life in England than City boss Pep Guardiola and it’s Tottenham, not City, that have the most-promising young squad in the country.

Guardiola has been heralded as a mastermind of club football for all that he has achieved throughout his career. While his resume is impressive and is filled with numerous accolades notched in domestic and European competitions, let’s not forget his best days on the touchline occurred with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. That’s sort of like somebody hitting the lottery and then immediately explaining to you how he’s a financial guru.

The Premier League, simply stated, is different from other domestic competitions. We see every season that any team can notch a win against just about any opponent home or away. The league is physically taxing and demanding in ways others aren’t. No wonder Guardiola appeared lost, at times, throughout his first season in England. Not everybody is a hit right out of the gates.

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Guardiola may, eventually, find a home at City, but he hasn’t yet proven himself while with the club. The same cannot be said about Pochettino, who has been a revelation at Spurs even if he has not yet won a trophy. Under Pochettino, players such as Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and, yes, Walker all improved. Eriksen has been linked in transfer rumors with Barcelona, and some expect it’s only a matter of time before Real Madrid come calling for Kane and/or Alli.

All we really know about Guardiola future relationship with Walker is that the England international wasn’t his new manager’s first choice. City merely settled on Walker after the club missed out on Alves. This isn’t to suggest Walker isn’t an immediate improvement for City, but nobody out there should pretend this marriage was written in the stars even before the official start of summer.

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It also must be mentioned Walker and Pochettino clearly had some sort of falling out last spring. Pochettino sat Walker multiple times during the final stretch of matches, and Spurs then signed 26-year-old Kieran Trippier to a five-year deal in June. By all accounts, Tottenham earned over £50 million for a player who was surplus to requirements, possibly because his manager didn’t believe he could play in multiple matches in a single week.

Rather than try to smooth things out with his former boss, Walker cashed in and moved on. If Pochettino and chairman Daniel Levy agree on the signing of somebody who immediately fills Walker’s spot in the squad or if Pochettino’s back three continues to thrive as if nothing changed, one will have to wonder if Walker will be left questioning his decision; unless, of course, money is what matters to him most at this point of his career.