Aston Villa reunion with Kyle Walker a terrific option for Unai Emery after transfer news emerges
Aston Villa have been linked with making a daring reunion with Manchester City defender Kyle Walker, who looks like he could fit into Unai Emery’s tactical set-up seamlessly.
According to Football Insider (17 April), the Villa hierarchy are set to back Emery to the hilt in the summer transfer window after the Spaniard’s remarkable transformation in the West Midlands.
With Emery believed to be looking to strengthen at right-back this summer, Walker, 32, has popped up on the club’s radar as a potential transfer.
The 75-capped England international, who previously spent time on loan at Villa Park in the 2010/11 season, has lost his regular starting spot at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola and is out of contract in the summer of 2024.
Although, on paper, a move for Walker looks a little far-fetched, the right-back ticks the majority of boxes on Emery’s checklist for a potential signing.
With Ashley Young getting no younger at 37 years old – despite a brilliant campaign this year – Villa might be in need of further competition for regular right-back Matty Cash come the next campaign.
What must also be considered is the positioning Emery enjoys his right-backs to play in.
The Spanish manager often allows Alex Moreno to venture into the final third at will, while Cash and Young are often asked to sit a little deeper and narrower.
This is a role that Walker has made his own at the Etihad Stadium over the last few years, and taking into account he has been blooded in the passing philosophy of Guardiola, he looks the perfect fit.
According to the Opta-powered stats on FBREF, over the last year, Walker is in the 98th percentile of full-backs for passes attempted (87.15 per 90) and the 93rd percentile for pass completion rate (85.5%).
What is more, the Englishman isn’t afraid to attempt progressive passes through the lines of the opposition press, sitting in the top 2% of full-backs for this stat (7.31 per 90) and in the top 1% for passes into the final third (7.87 per 90).
With Emery usually insisting that the likes of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa stay patient in possession of the ball and wait for the gaps to open up in the press, Walker’s ability to play such passes could be an amazing asset for Villa to possess.
If Young isn’t awarded a fresh contract when his expires at the end of the season, having Walker and Cash as the two right-back options would provide Emery with a brilliant balance.
The Polish international is the more offensive-minded defender out of the two, recording more dribbles per game (0.7 v 0.4) and more crosses (0.5 v 0.1) than Walker, while the Manchester City man is clearly the more defensive by nature. [WhoScored]
Depending on the match situation, both players could bring their own qualities to the Villa team if Walker was signed, and provide Emery with a plethora of tactical options.
Although links with Walker have emerged out of nowhere, it is a move that makes sense on so many levels.
In other Aston Villa news, the club might have found the heir to James Milner after what Unai Emery did against Newcastle.