Walker now most expensive defender

Having missed out on Dani Alves to Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola had been desperate to add a defender to his squad before leaving for the club's pre-season tour of the United States on Monday. New signing Kyle Walker (abo
Having missed out on Dani Alves to Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola had been desperate to add a defender to his squad before leaving for the club's pre-season tour of the United States on Monday. New signing Kyle Walker (above) is believed to be his best alternative to the Brazilian full-back.PHOTO: REUTERS

His $95m move to City puts him ahead of David Luiz but many question his worth

LONDON • Kyle Walker for £53 million (S$95 million)?

There were plenty of raised eyebrows among football fans yesterday when it was announced that the Tottenham Hotspur defender had joined Manchester City and become the world's most expensive defender.

The 27-year-old England international, who joined Tottenham alongside Kyle Naughton in 2009 for £9 million from Sheffield United, will cost an initial £45 million with another £5 million due in a year's time and £3 million due in add-ons, according to The Times of London.

That would break the record £50 million paid by Paris Saint-Germain to Chelsea for Brazilian defender David Luiz in 2014, while eclipsing the £49 million forked out by City to Liverpool for Raheem Sterling in 2015, the most for an English player.

Walker, who has 27 England caps, will reportedly earn £150,000 a week.

He established himself as the first-choice right-back at Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino, but their relationship deteriorated towards the end of last season.

Although he was probably the best right-back in the Premier League last season, the £53 million price tag still confounded many.

  • FIVE PRICIEST DEFENDERS

  • 1. KYLE WALKER 
    Tottenham to Manchester City,
    £53 million (S$95 million) 

    2. DAVID LUIZ 
    Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain, £50 million

    3. JOHN STONES
    Everton to Man City, £47.5 million 

    4. ELIAQUIM MANGALA 
    Porto to Man City, £42 million 

    5. SHKODRAN MUSTAFI 
    Valencia to Arsenal,£35 million

The Sheffield-born full-back has pace, stamina and defensive qualities and also the ability to beat a man and deliver a cross.

But, according to The Guardian, there are some at Spurs who feel that Kieran Trippier, who averaged 50 per cent more accurate crosses a game last season than Walker, is the better deliverer of the ball.

Having missed out on Brazilian Dani Alves, a high-class, low-cost option, Walker is an understandable alternative for City. He has not won much, but he has Premier League experience.

Whether he has the technical qualities to operate in that tucked-in, defensive midfield role City manager Pep Guardiola often demands from his full-backs is another matter.

Again, his limitations make his inflated cost befuddling.

Walker is only the latest of a series of extraordinary deals in the Premier League this close season - Romelu Lukaku for £75 million, Alexandre Lacazette for £53 million, Mohamed Salah for £37 million and Jordan Pickford for £30 million.

The English top flight can now boast the most expensive back five in history in Walker, Luiz, John Stones, Eliaquim Mangala and Shkodran Mustafi.

In part, this is a result of the latest broadcast deal, which means that every one of the 20 Premier League clubs ranks in Forbes' top 30 clubs in terms of annual revenue.

And in part it is because to the sheikhs, oligarchs and hedge fund grandees who own Premier League clubs, £50 million is not actually that much money.

Guardiola is keen to strengthen his defence and his next target is Benjamin Mendy, who was left out of Monaco's tour for their pre-season trip to Switzerland on Thursday.

City, who have been told the France left-back will cost about £40 million, hope to sign him too before the squad fly to the United States on Monday for their pre-season tour.
 

THE TIMES, LONDON,AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2017, with the headline 'Walker now most expensive defender'. Print Edition | Subscribe