Kalvin Phillips is a man in-demand this summer, with Leeds United braced for a £14m bid from Aston Villa for the midfield star, according to a report in the Telegraph.
Leeds had plenty of success in the Championship last season, despite missing out on promotion, which Aston Villa achieved in last month’s play-off final.
The 23-year-old midfielder was central to Leeds’ relative success, sitting ahead of the back-four and becoming a key component in Marcelo Bielsa’s machine.
Here, in our latest FLW Six Point Opinion, we tackle the speculation surrounding Phillips, Leeds and Aston Villa…
Firstly, tell us why Aston Villa are interested in Phillips?
“This time 12 months ago few would have predicted Phillips being a £14m player. He struggled for consistency and despite scoring enough goals, he drifted in and out of games too often.
“Now, Bielsa has transformed him into the Championship’s best holding midfielder, with a difficult role made to look easy work.
“He’s strong in the tackle and efficient on the ball, often setting the tempo for Leeds’ attacks.
“Heading to the Premier League, Aston Villa could really do with a player like him to shield the defence and make them stronger defensively. Plus, he’s at a great age, with his best years firmly ahead of him.”
A £14m bid is being readied – will this be enough to lure him out of Elland Road?
“I can’t see it myself.
“If Villa throw down £14m it is a lot of money and many people will expect Leeds to take it, but if you watched Bielsa’s side at all last season, you’ll realise just how important Phillips was to the team.
“As mentioned, he’s the best holding midfielder in the Championship and you’d struggle to replace his quality for £14m.”
So, how much might it take to get Leeds thinking?
“Aston Villa will have to push the £20m mark in my eyes.
“That seems a lot of money for the 23-year-old, but he’s just that important to Leeds.
“The club have brought him through the academy and invested a lot of money in his development, then, when you consider how much Bielsa rates him, it is going to take an eye-watering amount of money to get him out of Elland Road.”
Can you see Phillips pushing for a move?
“Not in the slightest, he seems so settled and there hasn’t been much indication that he’s desperate to get to Villa Park.
“The way he talks about playing for his boyhood club is really passionate, and you can tell he loves every minute of playing for Leeds United. He’s always got a smile on his face.
“Then when you consider how much Bielsa has developed him, why would he want to leave? Another 12 months under his guidance and it’s frightening just how easy the game could be to him.
“A new contract will probably have to go down in front of him, but there’s no way he will force his way out.”
What will be running through Marcelo Bielsa’s head with all this going on?
“He will be praying that Andrea Radrizzani doesn’t cave and sell his star man.
“Bielsa will know just how crucial Phillips was to Leeds’ promotion push last season, and you wonder where they would’ve been without his presence in the midfield.
“Of course, Bielsa is going to appreciate that players want to play at the top level, but he will hope Phillips gives him at least another year.”
Finally, should a move materialise, does Phillips get in Villa’s starting XI?
“So, going full circle and if Villa do splash the cash to get Phillips, Dean Smith will probably feel obliged to find room for him.
“He’s good enough anyway, but Villa’s midfield trio of Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Conor Hourihane did do well last season, particularly at the business end of the campaign.
“However, in the Premier League they’ll have to play with a little more caution, and I’d rather have Phillips shielding the defence than Hourihane.”