In Focus: Phillips primed to be Pep’s new unsung hero

Kalvin Phillips is expected to leave Leeds for Manchester City

Premier League champions Manchester City are poised to sign Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips for a fee of around £45million.

Defensive midfielder Phillips, 26, looks to be a direct replacement for City’s departed captain Fernandinho, leaving the England international with huge shoes to fill at the Etihad.

We take a closer look at what the industrious Yorkshireman will bring to Pep Guardiola’s star-studded squad and ponder if he can take his game to the next level under the Spaniard’s tutelage.

Heavy heart
Phillips’ imminent departure from Elland Road is the news that no Leeds fan ever wanted to hear.

Born and bred in the city, he joined the Whites’ academy aged 14 and has breezed through the ranks at his boyhood club in effortless fashion.

Since making his senior debut in April 2015, the midfielder has notched up 233 appearances across all competitions, won countless individual awards and established himself as a cult hero among supporters.

The role he played in securing the club’s long-awaited Premier League return was pivotal, while his transition into a top-tier regular in the two seasons since has been seamless.

Even since becoming a fixture in Gareth Southgate’s England side, there has been no indication of Phillips pushing to leave for bigger and better things.

City’s interest has changed the landscape, however.

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Pep Guardiola often spoke in glowing terms about Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds side

It is not every day the champions of England come knocking at a player’s door but the Citizens are long-term admirers of Leeds’ talismanic No23.

Ever since their long-serving skipper Fernandinho hinted he would not be extending his contract back in April, talk has been rife about his potential replacement.

Such was the Brazilian’s stature at the Etihad, any new arrival needs to be capable of hitting the ground running — and Phillips’ Premier League experience certainly sees him tick that box.

Crucially though, he also boasts adaptability.

While he has impressed in an expansive and somewhat chaotic Leeds set-up in recent years, a run to the Euro 2020 final playing next to Declan Rice saw him thrive in a far more rigid system too.

Working under one of football’s sharpest tacticians in 51-year-old Guardiola, he will need to embrace yet another style of play — and all the evidence suggests he is up to the task.

Source: Livescore

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