The Athletic’s Leeds United reporter Phil Hay has suggested that the club will have to win promotion to the Premier League this season if they are to retain the services of Kalvin Phillips, Mateusz Klich and Jack Harrison beyond the end of this season.
Phillips was heavily linked with a move to the Premier League after Leeds missed out on promotion last summer, and it has been reported during the course of the current campaign that Manchester United have joined the list of clubs interested in his signature.
Leeds are currently second in the Championship table, five points clear of the play-off places with ten games of the season remaining, and it seems Hay feels they will have to retain that position for the rest of the campaign if they are to have any hope of keeping Phillips in their ranks for next season.
Speaking about whether Leeds could keep Phillips in the summer transfer window if they fail to win promotion this season, Hay told The Athletic’s “The Phil Hay Show” Podcast: “The questions over Kalvin Phillips – does he go? For me he does if Leeds don’t go up for another year because he’s too good to be here with Leeds if we’re in the Championship.”
Klich meanwhile, has featured in every league game Leeds have played since Bielsa’s appointment, scoring 14 goals and providing 13 assists, while Harrison – who is in his second straight season-long loan from Manchester City – has nine goals and nine assists in 81 appearances in all competitions for the Whites.
It appears Hay believes that they too could have their heads turned in the summer if Leeds fail to go up, as he continued: “Players like Klich, will someone in the Premier League go ‘do you know what, we’ll pay a bit of money for him’.
“Does Jack Harrison want to stay or does he decide that actually he’s played well enough to get a better move to a higher division than this.”
Indeed, Hay appears to be under illusions as to the damage failure to win promotion could do to the Elland Road club, as he concluded: “There’s too many things that could drop off the machine if they don’t go up – Marcelo Bielsa being the steering wheel, really.
“For that reason, it has to happen.”
It feels hard to argue with Hay’s assessment here really.
The likes of Phillips, Klich and Harrison have all been hugely impressive for Leeds over the past season and a bit, so it would be a surprise if other clubs were to take a chance on trying to sign them in the summer.
Those hopes will only be boosted if Leeds do fail to win promotion this season, since these players will be desperate to play in the Premier League, and you wonder if they will be willing to take the chance of waiting another season at Elland Road if they fail to go up this time around, having already done that at the end of last season.
Given the loss these players would represent for Leeds, and the difficulty they would have in replacing them, you also feel it would be much more difficult for them to win promotion next season, further emphasising the importance of to them of getting the job done this time around.