Manchester City’s Kyle Walker is a top quality player 95% of the time, but those lapses in concentration which consistently manifest themselves in crucial moments have tarnished his reputation throughout his career.
In last season’s FA Cup 5th round, when Man City were still dreaming of an unprecedented quadruple, Walker allowed the ball to run beyond him into Will Grigg’s path and the iconic striker punished him in emphatic style to dump City out of the competition.
Back in December, Walker failed to get tight enough to Jeffrey Schlupp before he clinically slammed the ball beyond Ederson and he later upended Max Meyer with a rash challenge inside the penalty area to gift Palace a two goal advantage.
The consequence for his errors against Palace: an omission from the starting eleven from the three league fixtures which followed. Walker is now back in the side after starting back-to-back fixtures against Wolves and Huddersfield, but his shocker against Palace served to underline his tendency to make fundamental defensive errors.
There is no doubt that Walker will re-establish himself in the first-team and learn from his mistakes, but it appears that City are already looking to set the wheels in motion to secure their long-term upgrade on the England international.
Indeed, according to a recent report from Italian media outlet Milan News, Manchester City are interested in signing Milan’s highly rated prodigy Raoul Bellanova, but they will face competition from a whole host of clubs for his signature, including Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus, Bologna and Sassuolo.
The 18-year-old defender is considered to possess the attributes which form a successful modern day full-back, particularly at a club like Manchester City who strive to dominate possession.
Bellanova is a natural marauder with the natural instinct to support his attacking teammates in the final-third, and with pace to burn he is physically prepared to work back quickly to get back into position.
That may well ring alarm bells for those City fans who attribute a comparable description to Walker, but signing a player at Bellanova’s age would give Guardiola and his future successors the opportunity to mould his style appropriately, ensuring a perfect blend between attacking intent and defensive reliability.
And, with Bellanova’s contract due to expire in June 2019, City have a perfect opportunity to sign Milan’s hot prospect at an incredibly attractive price this month or, alternatively, agree a pre-contract agreement with him ahead of a permanent switch in the summer.
Walker’s arrival was integral to City’s incredible 2017/18 season, but his flaws are obvious and the club need to ensure that their future full-backs are more reliable in the defensive third than the England international.
Signing a player like Bellanova, who appears to possess the potential to eventually replace Walker as City’s first-choice full-back, could yet prove to be a cunning swoop from City in both footballing and financial terms.
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