There could only be one player to feature for Young Player watch this week. Enter 20-year-old Tottenham debutant and supporter Kyle Walker-Peters.
Although ruled out of starting against Newcastle by manager Mauricio Pochettino last week, the right-back impressed when called upon due to the absence of Kieran Trippier and departure of his (partial) namesake to Manchester City earlier in the transfer window. Keeping a clean sheet and scooping the man-of -the-match award on his debut will surely live long in the memory of the youngster.
Walker-Peters has had a steady if somewhat unspectacular rise through the Spurs academy. You would be forgiven for overlooking the Edmonton born defender due in part to the sheer quality and quantity of academy players that Spurs have been producing over the last few years. He has, however, been making plenty of noise on the international stage this summer.
He was a key part of the England side who won the U20s World Cup in South Korea playing somewhat out of position down the left hand side. As is true for many young players in the infancy of their careers, Walker-Peters may still be finding his best position having been signed as an attacking midfielder and converted to a full back who has proven to be equally effective on either flank.
It can take years to determine where a player should be deployed (see Gareth Bale’s curse at left back which almost saw him shipped out to Birmingham City), however the fact that Walker-Peters is able to play anywhere across the back four and in any position down either flank will endear himself to his manager who is known for liking versatility in his players and allow him to explore his strengths as his career unfolds.
It would be very easy to get carried away with the quality of his performance at the weekend and it remains to be seen if he can perform to the same standards week in week out against top sides, however, as a squad player who can take some of the strain off Trippier and fill in when needed he could be the perfect fit against a certain level of opposition. If he can produce a performance akin to Sundays he might quench Pochettino’s search for a reserve right back and earn himself a reserve spot this season.
The most pleasing thing from a Spurs perspective is the maturity beyond his years that he showed on the pitch throughout the game. It would have been easy for the occasion to get the better of him in front of the best part of 50,000 people and shrink away from responsibility but this couldn’t be further from the case.
Not only did he defend well, he attacked in an intelligent and measured manner, wasn’t afraid to tell more senior players what he needed them to do and boasted a 91% pass accuracy which would have most centre midfielders green with envy. Add to this the blistering pace that he showed on more than one occasion it is not a stretch too far to suggest that he will be a more than useful player for club and country in the not too distant future.
Where Walker-Peters goes from here both in terms of this season and beyond only time will tell; these are early days to be making bold claims about where his talent could take him, however the early signs are promising for the young defender who would be hard pressed to find a better club to be nurturing his development at this moment in time.
Written by George Bates.