It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours for Kyle Walker-Peters. After his fantastic performance against Leicester yesterday, it was announced today he has signed a new contract to keep him at the club until 2021.
The 21-year-old has had to bide his time, to say the least, this campaign. He impressed on the opening day of the season against Newcastle, but the signing of Serge Aurier from PSG put paid to any extended game time in the first team.
He had to wait the entire campaign to get his second start in the league, and he again showed some great ability on the ball, as well as an end product with two assists on top of it.
Pochettino is deservedly credited for giving young players a chance in the first team but with Kyle, I am finding a bit difficult to understand why he was given so few chances to impress.
He isn’t a naive teenager. At 21 years of age and an Under 20 World Cup winner, you can’t really say he isn’t ready to be put in at the deep end of the first team. Of course, it is always a risk to put young players in, but at some point, you need to find out whether a player can sink or swim.
I think Poch has been caught between two stalls with KWP, to be honest with you. To fight on all fronts he felt he needed two senior right backs that can deal with the rigours of the Premier League and the Champions League. With Serge, he thought he was getting at least a competent replacement for the outgoing Kyle Walker.
With that being the case, the youngster could have been better served by going out on loan. He could have left in January with Southampton reportedly interested, but he remained with us. With just nine senior appearances to his name, compared to Dele Alli’s 146 who is only a year older than him, the lack of game time in senior football is surprising.
Especially given Aurier’s less than stellar debut first season with us, it does seem harsh with hindsight that our no.37 was not given a bit more time on the pitch.
Of course, every player develops at different speeds. A relatively late bloomer could be all the explanation that is needed. Even in August, the manager was insistent that he wasn’t ready for first team duties.
However, combined with Aurier’s poor first season, and the Walker-Peters impressive display on the final day, you’ve got to say he is primed for more first-team opportunities.