Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

Fixtures & Results

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Home Sport Football

‘Intelligent’ Walker reminds Guardiola of Abidal and Lahm

Pep Guardiola has compared Kyle Walker to Champions League winners Philipp Lahm and Eric Abidal.The Manchester City defender has made his name as an attacking full-back but was successfully deployed as a right-sided centre-back in a three-man defence in England’s recent friendlies against Holland and Italy.The switch of role came as a surprise to some …

Pep Guardiola has compared Kyle Walker to Champions League winners Philipp Lahm and Eric Abidal.

The Manchester City defender has made his name as an attacking full-back but was successfully deployed as a right-sided centre-back in a three-man defence in England’s recent friendlies against Holland and Italy.

The switch of role came as a surprise to some but not City boss Guardiola, who was well aware of the 27-year-old’s versatility.

Guardiola has seen such strengths in players before having worked at Barcelona with Abidal, who was equally comfortable at left-back and centre-half, and at Bayern Munich with Lahm, who switched from right-back to midfield.

“He has the conditions to play there, I think it was a good decision by (England manager) Gareth Southgate,” said Guardiola. “He can play in both positions.

“With three in the back you have a little bit more protection in the middle and he has the physicality.

“He’s fast in front, he’s intelligent, good at passing short and long, can go fast forwards and backwards. So, he can play there.

“He is open-minded and when that happens anything can happen.

“Abidal and Philipp Lahm could play in different positions and adapt immediately, so quickly, because they were so good. Kyle is quite similar.”

Guardiola did mention Walker as a potential centre-back earlier in the season when hampered by injuries to his first choices in those positions but ultimately did not use them there.

The reason is perhaps that Walker, who left Tottenham last summer, has proved too valuable in his preferred role as City have dominated the Premier League this term.

Guardiola accepts Southgate may now have different plans for Walker for the World Cup, however, and has no intention of offering his thoughts.

He said: “They are his decisions, I’m not involved in that. He didn’t play in that position (for City), no, but the decision for the national team are for the national team manager.”

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