Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips was a major subject of interest for Premier League clubs this summer with Aston Villa, Tottenham and Wolves being linked (Birmingham Mail) over the past few months. Newly promoted Villa showed real interest in signing the English midfielder but were priced out of a move as United valued Phillips over £25m. The midfielder’s contract ends in 2021, and the Whites must renew his deal.
That is what they are trying to do as latest reports from Birmingham Live claims that Phillips is close to committing his future at Elland Road. The Whites had reportedly made agreeing on a new deal with their star midfielder a priority this summer, and now they are close to securing his long term future at the club.
Why is Phillips vital for Bielsa?
Phillips emerged as one of the first names on the team sheet since Bielsa took over and he played the role of a defensive midfielder to perfection. The 23-year-old is a good reader of the game and is strong and physical with his challenges.
Phillips manages to win a lot of 50-50 duels in the middle and that allows the Whites to quickly intercept possession and catch the opposition off guard in transition.
However, what really sets apart Phillips is his on the ball qualities. He is more than a midfield disruptor as he can spray passes from deep areas and can orchestrate play. Phillips is often called as the ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ due to the ease with which he goes about his business in the middle.
The midfielder has even filled in at centre back when required and didn’t look out of order in that role as well. It’s fair to say that he is quite easily the most crucial cog in Leeds United’s wheel along with Pablo Hernandez.
Can the Whites really keep him?
The danger of Phillips leaving Elland Road will still remain if the Whites fail to achieve promotion this season. The new contract will act as a major deterrent to prospective buyers, but quite a few Premier League clubs will still have the financial power to lure him. The ongoing season could be a make or break one for the Whites.
Pablo Hernandez is also 34 and is in the final year of his contract. Bielsa has only agreed on a one-year deal with the club. Therefore a lot hinges on this season including Phillips’ long term future. If United fail to achieve promotion, then one cannot blame Phillips if he moves on as he is definitely good enough to play in the Premier League.