Manchester City have reportedly agreed a fee in excess of £50m to sign Tottenham’s Kyle Walker – but how will he improve Pep Guardiola’s side? We check the stats…
City offloaded five ageing, long-term servants since the end of the season – including full-backs Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta – along with Jesus Navas and ‘keeper Willy Caballero.
Indeed, 31-year-old Clichy and 34-year-old Sagna were City’s most used full-backs last term, yet the former Gunners never fully fitted Guardiola’s style with the City boss experimenting with no fewer than seven different players in the wide, defensive roles.
So replacements and an injection of defensive youth were to be expected, but racing full-backs, or wing-backs, are almost as coveted as a defensive midfielder – and Walker is set to break the world record transfer fee for a defender.
The fee would be inflated by his ‘homegrown’ status, as Guardiola seeks to satisfy the Premier League ruling that requires teams to have a minimum of eight ‘homegrown players’ in a 25-man squad – but big fees rarely deter Manchester clubs.
Previous Englishmen have struggled at the Etihad, including the likes of Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair and Fabian Delph – but Walker would be more than a squad player to appease quotas.
The England international would almost certainly be a guaranteed starter next season and significantly increase City’s already lethal attacking threat, while bolstering defensive weaknesses with athleticism to track back.
Guardiola’s perfect start in England fell apart during October last year, primarily due to defensive and goalkeeping frailties. Those recurring stutters in form cost the Spaniard a genuine title challenge during the closing months.
However, with new keeper Ederson signed from Benfica for £34.9m in June and, potentially, one of the league’s most formidable full-backs added to the ranks, Guardiola is setting his stall for a title-challenging second term.
But how would Walker improve City’s stats?
The radar graphic above shows how Walker compares to the combined average of City’s most used full-backs: Clichy, Sagna, Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov.
Walker is far in front of his counterparts for attacking threat, dwarfing City’s full-back stats for assists, crosses and corners, dribbles and chances created, while also surpassing them for duels won and tackles.
All four of City’s most used full-backs only managed one assist between them while fulfilling the role during the entire campaign. In contrast, Walker racked up four from flank and another from a central position.
In total, City’s full-backs and deeper wide midfielders only registered seven assists, despite attacking primarily down the flanks – which suggests excessive dependence on the attacking wide midfielders.
The graphic above shows how Walker would deliver a major attacking boost compared to what Sagna offered last season.
Guardiola primarily used a 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 formation last term and the graphic shows that Walker would occupy more prominent attacking positions, supporting and overlapping Raheem Sterling or new signing Bernardo Silva down the right flank.
Walker would also stretch opposition defences wider than achieved last season, which could also open pockets of space in and around the box for the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero.
City had a league-high 79 attempts on goal from corners last season but only scored five of those. For comparison, West Brom scored a league-high 16 goals from just 58.
However, Guardiola’s men scored 14 goals from crosses – bettered only by Crystal Palace (20), Liverpool (19), West Brom (19) and Arsenal (18) – and Walker would undoubtedly boost this figure, in addition to creating space for attempts in central positions.
Out of the six full-backs, Zabaleta covered the greater distance on average with 10.88 km per 90 minutes. In fact, Walker recorded lower figures than all of City’s full-backs, with the exception of Sagna.
These greater distances are likely to be a result of Guardiola’s physical demands on the pitch and the 27-year-old will be expected to cover a greater distance in Manchester.
However, Walker surpassed all of City’s full-backs last season for sprints per game and a top speed at 35.18 km/h – a league high for Premier League defenders.
It could be argued that Chelsea and Tottenham’s wing-backs or full-backs separated the teams from City and the rest of the chasing pack last term.
Guardiola only used a three-at-the-back system in the Premier League on five occasions, but Leroy Sane and Sterling do not possess adequate defensive qualities.
Walker will provide Guardiola with a three-at-the back option – having played the wing-back role at Spurs.
Guardiola’s defensive overhaul of youth and attacking intent could prove to be the difference if City are to dethrone Chelsea and win the title next season.Soccer Accumulator Bonus
Our fantastic Euro Soccer accumulator offer gives you the chance to earn a bonus of up to 100% on accumulators on the top domestic leagues in Europe along with the group and knockout stages of the Champions League.
This offer applies to returns on pre-match accumulators of 3 or more selections on Full Time Result or Result/Both Teams To Score markets for the English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera Liga, German Bundesliga 1 or UEFA Champions League.
The maximum bonus that you can receive is €100,000 or currency equivalent. The bonus will not apply where a stake has been fully Cashed Out. Where a stake has been partially Cashed Out, the bonus will be calculated based .on the remaining active stake. If a qualifying bet is edited .using our Edit Bet feature. The bonus will be calculated based on the new stake. Where a bet has been edited to include or amend a selection for an event that is In-Play, the bonus will no longer apply. Double Chance bets or combination bets with bonuses. Such as Lucky 15’s or Lucky .31’s do not apply for this offer.
If your bet is successful, we will add the following bonuses to your returns:
Bet Type Bonus
14-folds and upwards 100% bonus
Terms and Conditions
Applies to straight pre-match accumulator bets on the Full Time Result or Result/Both Teams To Score markets for UEFA Champions League, English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera Liga, German Bundesliga .1 or Australian A-League matches. Maximum bonus €100,000 or currency equivalent. Soccer Accumulator Bonus does not apply to Double Chance bets or combination. bets with bonuses such as Lucky 15’s, Lucky 31’s etc.
If any selections are postponed/void then the bonus will still apply, but the percentage bonus added will reflect the actual number of winning selections. For example, an 8-fold accumulator with 7. winners and 1 postponed match will receive a 30% .bonus to returns.
The bonus part of your returns will be added to your account within 24 hours of your final selection having played.
This bonus will not apply where a stake has been fully Cashed Out. Where a stake has been partially Cashed Out, the bonus will be calculated based on the remaining active stake.
If a qualifying bet is edited using our Edit Bet feature, the bonus will be calculated based on the new stake. Where a bet has been edited to include or amend a selection for an event that is In-Play, the bonus will no longer apply.
Where any term of the offer or promotion is breached or there is any evidence of a series of bets placed by a customer or group of customers, which due to a deposit bonus, enhanced payments, free bets, risk free bets or any other promotional offer results in guaranteed customer profits irrespective of the outcome, whether individually or as part of a group, bet365 reserves the right to reclaim the bonus element of such offers and in their absolute discretion either settle bets at the correct odds, void the free and risk free. bets or void any bet funded by the deposit bonus.
In addition bet365 .reserve the right to levy an administration charge on the customer up to the value of the deposit bonus, free bet, risk free bet or additional payment to cover administrative costs. We further reserve the right to ask any customer to provide sufficient documentation for us to be satisfied in our absolute discretion as to the customer’s identity prior to us crediting any bonus, free bet, risk free bet or offer to their account.
All bet365 offers are intended for recreational players and bet365 may in its sole discretion limit the eligibility of customers to participate in all or part of any promotion.