Exclusive: Audacious Aston Villa transfer to crash and burn, with Man City spending spree torpedoing Emery plan
An ambitious Aston Villa move for a four-time Premier League winner is unlikely to go through, with TEAMtalk learning a mini-Man City revamp is set to disrupt Unai Emery’s plans.
Something of an end of an era has been speculated among the defensive ranks at Man City this summer. It wasn’t so long ago that Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte and Joao Cancelo were all guaranteed starters in Pep Guardiola’s back four.
However, the Spaniard’s shift to a 3-2-4-1 formation has put the cat amongst the pigeons in City’s backline.
Indeed, Cancelo was loaned out to Bayern Munich in January, while Nathan Ake is favoured on the left side of Pep’s back three.
Walker has operated on the right side of the three on occasion, most notably in the FA Cup run, though it’s Manuel Akanji who’s been preferred in the Premier League.
When recently asked about Walker’s suitability to his new system, Guardiola admitted the four-time Premier League winner is among the biggest losers from the change.
Walker marginalised if new formation sticks
“No, he cannot do it,” Guardiola admitted.
“He will always have pace; Kyle at 60 years old will be the fastest player in this room.
“To play inside you have to have educated movements – he doesn’t have every one of the characteristics.
“He has played as a full-back coming inside in the past with four at the back. He has done really well but this shape of three at the back and two in the middle, he cannot do it.”
Walker is 32 and his contract in Manchester is due to expire in 2024. With his importance to Guardiola clearly diminished, an exit this summer would make sense.
Football Insider claimed Aston Villa were sizing up a move for Walker in preparation for what they hope will be a return to Europe next season. Walker would bring a wealth of experience in that regard.
Sheffield United too have been linked if and when they secure promotion to the Premier League. More recently, the Telegraph claimed AC Milan could offer Walker a late-career switch to Italy.
However, speaking exclusively to TEAMtalk, transfer insider Graeme Bailey explained why any and all moves for Walker this summer are likely to end in failure.
Man City moves to ensure Walker stays put?
Bailey stated Man City are expecting to perform something of a mini overhaul in midfield this summer. Kalvin Phillips is being linked with a £35m move to Liverpool, while Ilkay Gundogan is an impending free agent and Bernardo Silva is once again wanted by Barcelona.
Replacing any or all of those players will take precedence and a new centre-half to replace the wantaway Laporte is required too.
As such, selling Walker and being forced into signing a replacement for a player who can always be relied upon is unlikely to feature highly in City’s thinking this summer.
“Kyle Walker is not unhappy at Man City, that is the point to make with him,” stressed Bailey.
“When he is available he does still rack up a decent number of starts for Pep Guardiola.
“However, there is interest in him from a number of clubs. Aston Villa like him, whilst he has never hidden his desire to return to Sheffield United – the club he started his career with.
“But City are going to have a bit of a midfield overhaul this summer and probably sign a central defender too.
“There are only so many deals any club can do, and I am not sure that replacing Walker is a priority this summer.”
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