Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips has been the centre of much transfer interest this summer, but the club so far have been determined to keep him.
Aston Villa seem most keen in the Leeds academy star, with Football Insider suggesting they recently bid more than £10m for his services, which was rejected by Leeds.
The 23-year-old is key to Leeds and Bielsa’s system. They don’t have another player like him in the squad, and they aren’t in a position where they need to sell with the Jack Clarke deal set to bring in more than £8m to the club.
Added to that, Phillips has made no suggestion that he wants a move, and he would be more than happy to help his childhood club get back into the Premier League.
However, if a bid came in that was too good to refuse Leeds would have to consider selling, so with that possibility in mind here are three players they should have an eye on currently.
The Swansea man was given his first chance in the Swans’ first team last season and he didn’t disappoint. He is a much different player to Phillips but he would be a very effective player for Leeds and Bielsa’s passing football, and he could play just in front of the backline and act as a deep-lying playmaker.
Grimes’ average 70 passes per game was more than any other Championship player last season. He kept Swansea ticking over and Leeds need that if they are to dominate games like they did last season.
Amongst midfielders he had the fourth best passing accuracy with 87%, a brilliant return considering the amount of passes he attempts. Bielsa would love a player like Grimes, he is perfect at starting attacks and retaining the ball under pressure. He’s 23 too so has room for improvement, and could be sold on for a profit later in his career.
Pearson had a very impressive season for Preston yet again last season, and it seems like a natural step up for him to join a side aiming for promotion.
Phillips is so effective for Leeds because he breaks up play and wins the ball back, and that is exactly the role Pearson fulfils. Last season his average of 2.7 tackles was amongst the highest in the division. He also made an impressive 1.7 interceptions per game.
It is important for Leeds to bring in a player who can organise the midfield and protect the back four. That is what allowed Leeds’ creative players to free roam last season and if Phillips goes they will be missing that.
Despite being more of a creative midfielder, it is rare for Leeds to get their hands on the type of money Phillips could go for. They should therefore put it to good use and get one of the best midfield prospects in the division.
Brownhill has been superb for Bristol City since breaking into the side and a big reason why they challenged for the play-offs last season. His energy and passing ability is so effective and in that sense he would make up for the loss of Phillips.
If he can adapt his game and become improve his defensive awareness then he would become the all-round midfielder Leeds need. Under the guidance of Bielsa he could improve drastically and Leeds could have the best midfielder in the division on their hands.