Earlier this year, Walker’s future at Etihad Stadium was cast into doubt when Pep Guardiola used John Stones to brilliantly fill the position of an inverted right-back.
The England international’s impending departure was hinted at when the Citizens coach plainly said back in April that Walker, who prefers to use his speed on the overlap rather than coming infield, could not play in his new system.
Walker, 33, was previously scheduled to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2023–24 campaign. The German champions Bayern Munich were strongly linked to a move by Walker, where he might have reconnected with Harry Kane, his former Tottenham Hotspur colleague.
The right-back, however, chose to sign a new contract with the treble winners in the summer of 2026 rather than move to the Allianz Arena, and he has been essential to Guardiola in the first games of the 2023–24 campaign.
Walker has started 17 games in all competitions this season, playing all 90 minutes in each of his team’s 12 Premier League games, and recording one assist against Nottingham Forest. Walker can play right back, right wing-back, and center-back.
Walker has taken the armband 16 times this season, including in his team’s victory over Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup. Current captain Kevin De Bruyne is out due to a hamstring injury.
Although the England international’s current contract has three years remaining, it will expire at the age of 36, and Man City is rumored to be searching for a replacement.
James of Chelsea is a strong contender to succeed Walker at right back, and Guardiola is a huge fan of his abilities, according to The Independent, which was cited via the Manchester Evening News.
James, a player whose talents are in wide positions where there is space to exploit, is another one whose career has been hindered by injury. Despite this, Mauricio Pochettino appointed James as club captain this summer.
Since enrolling in the West London giants’ academy in 2006, the 23-year-old has played for them on 152 times, making 152 appearances in the senior team while tallying 20 assists and 11 goals.
Due to a hamstring injury, James has only made six appearances so far in the 2023–24 season. However, he has fully recovered and started a Premier League match for just the third time this year in Sunday’s 4–4 tie with Man City.
James set up a Raheem Sterling goal in that eight-goal display, his first score of the new season. However, he was substituted out shortly after the hour, and he has yet to play the entire ninety minutes in any game this year.
James, a childhood Blues defender, was only signed to a new deal by Chelsea in September of last year. He won’t be able to go elsewhere until 2028, so Man City is unlikely to be put off.
To sign James, though, the Champions League champions may have to compete with Real Madrid since Los Blancos seem to see James as a long-term successor for Dani Carvajal.