Premier League giants Arsenal and Manchester United are reportedly monitoring the situation of Southampton full-back Kyle Walker-Peters, with both clubs looking to strengthen the position ahead of the upcoming season. According to David Ornstein, the Saints are keen on recruiting a new full-back following Valentino Livramento’s unfortunate injury combined with the lack of depth in the position.
Although contracted until 2025, The Athletic, on Tuesday, suggested that the arrival of a new full-back could trigger the potential sale of Walker-Peters. While there remains no appetite amongst the club’s hierarchy to sanction a trade for the player, given the Saints’ recent interest in former Liverpool full-back Neco Williams and Man United’s Brandon Williams, the Southampton full-back could express a willingness to seek a move provided either of Arsenal or United express a genuine interest in his signature.
Moreover, with talks over a new contract with Southampton having been stalled, the 25-year-old retains admirers within the Premier League. Besides the two top-six sides, Everton are also said to have explored the possibility of his signing, although a move to Merseyside remains uncertain considering the Toffees’ financial precarities this summer.
Having registered 82 appearances for Southampton since moving from Tottenham Hotspur two years ago, Walker-Peters has established himself as a crucial part of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s first-team lineup in recent seasons. While Spurs are said to have installed a £30m buy-back clause, the Lilywhites have not expressed an interest in retaining his services ahead of the 22/23 campaign. Contributing two goals and four assists for the Saints alongside earning his first national team call-up last season, Walker-Peters remains on the list of Arsenal and United provided either club attempt to bolster their full-back position moving into the season.
Lacking quality depth in either full-back role, Arsenal remain in the market for versatile figures capable of providing adequate competition across both positions. Although having acquired a promising figure in Takehiro Tomiyasu to fulfil the right-back role last season, Hector Bellerin’s desperation to leave the club has pushed Mikel Arteta into looking for a new full-back ahead of the campaign. Arsenal do have Cedric to back Tomi up, but his mobility and grace of tracking back has proven to be an issue – no taking anything away from how excellent the Portuguese was ending the last campaign.
With the ability to play in either full-back position, Walker-Peters has undoubtedly emerged as a target for the Gunners this summer. Considering Arteta’s philosophy on the pitch, the 25-year-old’s ability to progress the ball up the pitch combined with his prowess in the attacking third could significantly supplement the team’s transitions moving into the opposition’s half.
Moreover, serving as adequate competition for the likes of Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney, Arsenal could move for Walker-Peters having fallen back in their pursuit of Ajax’s Lisandro Martinez in recent days. Given the need to address their lack of depth in the full-back position, the Gunners will be keen on adding a player in the position ahead of the new season. But the question comes in that can KWP play inverted and support the attack from the deep zones – like Tierney and Tomiyasu has done last season?
With United in need of a reliable progressive right-back to challenge the likes of Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Walker-Peters emerges as a promising prospect for the role. Considering Erik Ten Hag’s requirement for a full-back capable of doubling up as a winger alongside being a figure willing to run the length of the pitch in a bid to carry out both defensive and offensive duties efficiently, the 25-year-old Englishman is bound to supplement the Dutchman’s philosophy on the pitch.
Having been primarily used as a right-back at Southampton, Walker-Peters’ arrival could see him operate in a familiar role at United. A versatile option, the full-back has the potential to establish himself as a starting full-back under Ten Hag. Although Inter Milan’s Denzil Dumfries, reportedly, remains the newly appointed manager’s preferred full-back target, Walker-Peters could edge past the Dutch international in becoming the Red Devils’ primary target having shown promising potential whilst boasting Premier League experience.
Although short on depth across many positions, United could jump in to secure the signing of Walker-Peters – in a similar way to that of Tyrell Malacia – provided Southampton seek a reasonable transfer fee for the full-back. Having shown notable potential under Hasenhuttl’s tutelage, the 25-year-old could prove to be a vital player for Ten Hag, provided he moves to Old Trafford this summer.