This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Comment’ series, this content strand is where the author of the article issues their personal opinion on the topic at hand….
The summer of 2019 was far from a relaxing one for Leeds United fans.
Following the excitement, drama and heartbreak that had come with their promotion push during the previous campaign, they now seemingly faced a summer battle to retain their manager and summer stars.
Bielsa stayed but centre-back Pontus Jansson, striker Kemar Roofe and winger Jack Clarke were all sold.
Panic started to set in. Who would be next?
The last player any Leeds fan wanted to see leave was midfielder and homegrown-hero Kalvin Phillips.
The 23-year-old become a central figure in Bielsa’s revolution during the 2018/19 season, playing in 42 of their 46 league games and both of the play-off ties with Derby County.
As a result, however, during the summer Phillips was linked with moves to the Premier League, with Aston Villa seemingly pushing hardest, and all the club’s valuation remained high, it did not appear unrealistic.
But on Monday evening, after negotiating the remainder of the transfer window, Leeds fans were givem the news they were desperate to hear.
Phillips had signed a new long-term deal at Elland Road – a five-year one to be precise.
But whilst the deal is undoubtedly good news for the club, a report from Football Insider did reveal that there is a release clause in the player’s contract, leaving the option for him to leave next summer very much alive.
So has anything really changed?
There is no question that this update significantly settles issues off the field, both in the crowd and in the dressing room.
Having contract battles like these hanging over a club are a needless distraction so there is no question that Leeds will be able to focus on on-the-field matters far more effectively for now.
However, the season necesseties remain the same.
According to Football Insider’s report, if Leeds are not promoted this season a release clause of between £20million and £25million becomes active, similar fees the club turned down in the summer.
Had Phillips not signed a new deal at this stage, chances are he still would have remained for the rest of the season. He is, after all, a model professional and would not want to leave his club in the lurch during the January window.
But, come next summer, had they not won promotion he would have most-likely still secured a move away. Just like he would have most likely stayed had a Premier League spot come to fruition.
There is no doubting, therefore, that the deal getting done will have added a sense of security to proceedings at Leeds and also secured them an extra £5million or so, which they may not have got next summer with a year less on his contract.
However, the goals very much remain the same and the fans, board, manager and playing squad must all remember this.