Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has revealed his conversation with Kyle Walker to the Daily Mail, from just before the right back left North London.
Walker, 27, joined Spurs from Sheffield United way back in the summer of 2009, and it's fair to say that he went through real ups and downs during his time at White Hart Lane.
The right back was largely seen as a defensive naïve full back before Pochettino's arrival as manager in 2014, and his career really took off under the Argentinian.
Walker not only showed off his pace and attacking threat in an expansive setup under Pochettino, but also improved defensively as he became first-choice right back for both Tottenham and England.
However, Walker lost his place in the Spurs side towards the end of last season, with Pochettino giving the nod to Kieran Trippier on a number of occasions, sparking rumours that Walker wanted to leave.
Eventually, Walker did seal a big-money move to Manchester City, ending eight years with Spurs – and whilst the details of Walker's attitude surrounding the move have been kept under wraps, Pochettino has now revealed all.
As quoted by the Daily Mail, Pochettino has revealed that Walker came to his office after Tottenham's 4-0 win over Watford in April, and told Pochettino that his head and his heart weren't with Spurs anymore, and he would be demanding a summer transfer.
Pochettino - who explained his reasons for dropping Walker in favour of Trippier - blasted Walker for his timing given that Spurs were pursuing the Premier League title, and accused Walker of an 'alarming lack of respect' for his teammates, whilst also giving a slap in the face to the club. Just months later, Walker was gone.
“I knew there would be speculation over why I left Walker out of the starting XI, but we felt Trippier was the right pick,” said Pochettino. “He didn't have a great start to the season, but he got into gear when his opportunity came. His form dipped again over the Christmas period, but after that he kept upping his game, despite not being a regular starter. And sometimes, however much you put it off, you have to take the plunge and give a player a chance at another's expense. Leaving out a regular always wounds them, creating a rift between them and the coaching staff that can be very difficult to heal.”
“Walker had just played back-to-back games for the national team. Our first match after his return was against Burnley. Trippier had been doing well in training for a few months and got the nod, meaning Walker was on the bench. We played Swansea on the Wednesday and Walker started. Trippier came back into the team to face Watford on the Saturday and was man of the match. We won all three fixtures and were happy to have two regular starters competing for a place, with both players looking fresh for the final stretch of the campaign. Walker came to my office after the Watford game.”
Walker: 'Gaffer, I've been at Tottenham for nine years. I've thought about it and my heart isn't here any more. Nor is my head. I've given all I have to give. I wanted to tell you before I tell my agent that I want to leave this summer.'
Pochettino: 'Kyle, you have to stay professional. There's a month and a half to go. We're battling for the Premier League and FA Cup. We have to be focused and finish the campaign strongly.'
Walker: 'OK, gaffer. But it's already decided.'
Pochettino: 'Well, that doesn't just depend on you or me. It depends on the club, above all. You've disappointed me because you've decided to tell me that you want to leave when there is a month and bit left in the competition... You could've sucked it up, kept quiet, trained, played and helped the team when not picked... and at the end of the season you could have come and told me.'
"Miguel was present. I always try to ensure there are witnesses during private conversations. I considered it to be an alarming lack of respect for his team-mates and a slap in the face for the club. None of that could be explained to the public at the time. I had to bite my tongue. From that point, the rumours started to proliferate," he added.