Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards has commended Kyle Walker on his performances since coming to the club in 2017, believing that he has justified his transfer fee.
Speaking on Joe Hart’s ‘Gloved‘ podcast [via Manchester Evening News], Richards said: “I think Walker has done really well because he’s had a lot of stick over his career for not being able to defend. He seems to fit the City formation quite well and he’s done really well.
“A lot of people were saying £50m is a lot of money, he’s not worth it, but he’s actually done really well.”
A look at Walker’s statistics during his time at Manchester City make it difficult to go along with Richards’ assertion that the ex-Tottenham man has performed “really well” for the club.
In his first season at the Etihad, Walker posted match averages of 1.5 successful tackles, 2.2 successful aerial duels, 73.8 passes and 0.9 key passes, with an 87.8% passing accuracy. Danilo, another right-back who arrived at the club in summer 2017, had a higher passing success rate (89.9%) and won more tackles per game (1.9) that season. [via WhoScored]
In 2018/19, Walker’s aerial duels average fell to 1.4 per game, with his tackling success rate dropping to 1.2 per game. Danilo won more aerial duels (1.6) and more tackles (1.2) than him, as well as averaging more interceptions (1.4 to 1.1 per game) than the England defender. [via WhoScored]
However, it was the Brazilian who was allowed to leave for Juventus in the summer in a deal which saw Joao Cancelo move in the opposite direction, as reported by the Evening Standard.
Walker has continually retained the faith of Pep Guardiola in his time at the Etihad, though, making 62 Premier League starts in his first two seasons and eight out of nine so far this term, with Cancelo having to wait until this month for his full Premier League debut.
Walker’s standards have slipped of late compared to last season, with decreases in his match averages from last term for successful aerial duels (1.4 to one), successful tackles (1.2 to 0.6), interceptions (1.1 to 0.5) and key passes (0.7 to 0.5), as well as his passing accuracy (90.1% to 88%). [via WhoScored]
The 29-year-old has been questioned in some quarters in recent weeks, with Tony Cascarino telling talkSPORT that he should have lost his place in the team after a “poor” performance against Norwich, while Sky Sports‘ Rob Dorsett feels that Walker’s future with England is “on the wane” after his omission from Gareth Southgate’s squad for this month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers.
The Manchester City right-back has statistically regressed from last season, which makes Richards’ claim about him playing “really well” seem a peculiar one.
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