Kyle Walker is that footballing rarity – a player who appears to be getting quicker with age, someone whose turn of pace has become sharper since turning 30.
His blistering early sprint against Olympiakos was trademark stuff, unlike his clever reverse pass to Ferran Torres.
Walker is not only gaining miles an hour with growing maturity, he is becoming a more intelligent footballer.
His renewed importance to club and country has been a storyline that has gone under the radar this season but, then again, right-backs often go under the radar.
When he reached his fourth decade back in May, it was with some turbulence.
There had been a lurid breach of Covid-19 regulations and his international future was said to be in jeopardy.
Don’t forget, he had already been dropped once by Gareth Southgate in August, 2019. And his club were believed to be none too impressed with him.
Fast forward less than six months and Walker has never seemed more valuable to Manchester City and remains in the England fold, even though he was sent off in Iceland at the beginning of September.
Walker has started all 11 of City’s games in the 2020/21 season and played the full 90 minutes in both England’s Nations League game last month.
And it is not only his trademark speed and strength that have caught the eye.
His distribution looks more certain and more inventive, his defending just a little more composed.
Walker’s style means there are bound to be moments of rashness, card-earning moments, but, for his club, he has only had one yellow this season.
He was not tested severely by a neat but limited Olympiakos, allowing him familiar licence to get forward.
And his surges usually ended with a decent ball, such as the one Riyad Mahrez mis-controlled early in the second half.
The nature of Walker’s game meant he led the recovery mission and that is probably another reason why Guardiola clearly has so much faith in him.
That is why Kyle Walker has become Pep’s very own Mr Reliable.
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