Kyle Walker says something unexpected about Liverpool before the Man City vs. Inter Milan championship game.


Kyle Walker knows as well as anyone traveling to Istanbul this weekend that the rare peaks of elite sport offer few concessions to finalists. The demand to prove with the shiniest bits of metal what already seems obvious is relentless. Don’t argue about size – just show us the medals. As Manchester City cruise to Saturday night’s Champions League final at Inter Milan as Premier League champions, the dominant force in England and overwhelming favourites, Walker knows final confirmation is yet to be won. “It won’t decide what this team has achieved in the last six years, whether we win or not,” he said. “But it helps enormously to say that we can probably be classified in this category as one of the best Premier League teams of all time. You don’t win five Premier Leagues in six years if you are not a good team.

“We kind of know we’re a good team, but to be recognized as one of the best teams in the world, you have to win the Champions League.” We’re not beating around the bush, we know this is a great opportunity.”

For Walker, who endured a summer of near-failure in a Champions League and Euro final with England in 2021, it’s a third chance at a major final. The treble also rumbles in the background, but City players seem motivated not to emulate Manchester United’s success in 1999, but rather to improve and define themselves. And Walker called Liverpool another team he considers England’s best ever, despite their decline this season. “Naturally I think the United team, along with the Invincibles (Arsenal’s unbeaten title winners in 2003-04) are probably among the best Premier League teams of all time,” Walker said.

But what we and Liverpool have to some extent been fighting for in recent years, I think we should take into account. Both teams have fantastic players but they have the silverware and they have the big Champions League trophy which we can never tell.

At 33, this may well be Walker’s last chance, as he has had to respond to criticisms from Pep Guardiola that his level had slipped and pressure from young talent like Rico Lewis who were rising through the City ranks. He did it brilliantly.

Parachuted in when Nathan Ake was injured in mid-April, he cemented his place in Guardiola’s good books with throwback performances. Superb against Real Madrid home and away, Walker has played every minute but an hour against Leeds since 20 April. Why did I leave you?” he said.

“When I got the chance I tried to do what I do, play good football, defend well and hopefully give him the confidence to keep picking me in the big games.” Walker was given an extra day off this week after experiencing pain in his back, but if he can prove his fitness, his presence in the biggest match at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium looks likely.

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