Southampton signed Kyle Walker-Peters on a six-month loan deal from Tottenham in the January transfer window. Kyle Walker-Peters ran out of favour at his parent club Tottenham as Jose Mourinho didn’t have him in his plans for the season and trusted Aurier more on the right flank.
Due to coronavirus pandemic, almost all sporting events were suspended temporarily including the Premier League. Due to the suspension, Walker-Peters could only manage to appear once for the Saints in their 2-1 loss against Burnley at home. So the question that arises is can Southampton gamble on signing a player so early if they’ve only seen him start once in their team?
It is no secret that Southampton desperately need a right-back. The Saints have been struggling on the right flank throughout the season and manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has been forced to play his number 6 James Ward-Prowse in an unfamiliar position. Southampton’s first-choice right-back Yan Valery spent most of his season on the sidelines due to an infection. This was the primary reason for the Saints to go for a right-back.
However, Valery recovered in February first week and was fit to start for the Saints after featuring for their U23s against Nottingham. His arrival further decreased Walker-Peters chances of getting game time. However, Walker-Peters ability to play on both wings is one of the prime reasons Hasenhuttl signed him in the first place. With Bertrand and Valery as the only defensive options on the left and right flanks, Walker-Peters could be a valuable asset for the team.
Walker-Peters’ impressed Tottenham’s former manager Pochettino while playing for the club’s U23 side. He got good opportunities under Pochettino as he made nine appearances in the 2017-18 season and ten appearances the next season. With Trippier leaving Spurs and Aurier being out of form, Walker-Peters was widely accepted as a regular starter for the team. But a hamstring injury hampered his progress massively. After coming back, his game time was reduced to just cup appearances.
Walker-Peters is an extremely talented modern-day full-back who offers versatility on the wings. He is technically gifted and has the experience of building up from the back. He offers a lot in the attack and combines well while going forward.
Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl usually likes to deploy a 4-4-2 formation and Walker-Peters could provide a much-needed width to the narrow formation while attacking. However, he doesn’t offer physicality but he’s fast and agile. However, he has been criticised at times for not being defensively good.
So signing the youngster would be a fair deal for Southampton as he will offer much-needed depth to the squad. After signing him permanently, Southampton will have two young players vying for the starting spot and a little competition is good for the team. Hasenhuttl may rotate between the players according to the opponent. He also has the experience of playing in a similar system to that of the Saints boss. Hasenhuttl said while signing that Walker-Peters is a good player and has the ability to learn.
“He’s good for Southampton because he’s young, quick and technically good. I think this hard disk has a lot of space to put something on, so I think he can learn a lot,” Hasenhuttl said.
Southampton have nine more games to play this season once the league resumes and this would give the 23-year-old English defender more games to impress. The Lilywhites are in desperate need for a number 6 and are linked with Saints captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Hojbjerg has just one more year left in his contract after this summer and if the Saints are not able to make him stay, then Kyle Walker-Peters could become a part of that deal.