After announcing his departure from Marseille late last week, the 22-year-old has since agreed to join Steven Gerrard’s side on a five-year deal this summer, following the expiry of his existing deal.
That free transfer coup could well be followed by another midfield addition in the upcoming window in the form of Phillips, however, with the Telegraph reporting on Sunday that the England international is a ‘leading target’ for the Midlands outfit.
Had the 26-year-old’s current side suffered relegation on the final day the player could have reportedly been available for as little as £30m owing to a release clause in his contract, although after a dramatic win away at Brentford at the weekend to secure their survival, Jesse Marsch’s side are likely to demand closer to £60m.
Having already snapped up Kamara – the club’s second summer arrival after making Philippe Coutinho’s move permanent – a move for the Yorkshireman in the coming months could help Gerrard form an immense midfield pairing that would be the envy of the sides above them.
Dubbed “unreal” by former teammate Lewis Cook, Phillips has blossomed for club and country in recent seasons, notably starring under Gareth Southgate last summer as the Three Lions surged to the Euro 2020 final, featuring in all seven games in the competition.
A key cog in Southgate’s side, the £45m-rated gem had formed a standout partnership with West Ham United talisman Declan Rice in that tournament, with managerial legend Fabio Capello lavishing the duo with praise for their commanding displays in front of the back four.
Although replicating that pair at Villa Park appears improbable – with Rice set to fetch roughly £150m if he is to depart the London Stadium – in Kamara the club have identified a man who can perform a similar role, having been an all-action midfield presence during his time at the Stade Velodrome.
That record is remarkably similar to that of the aforementioned Hammers star, with the 23-year-old recording a 92% pass accuracy rate, as well as averaging 1.8 interceptions, 1.4 clearances and 2.2 tackles per game, with the Englishman narrowly coming out on top.
That does prove, however, that Villa’s new signing has the capabilities to be not only a success in the Premier League, but also a suitable partner to potential target Phillips, with supporters likely to be praying that a deal can get done for the 19-cap monster.
Dubbed “exceptional” by pundit Danny Higginbotham, the £38k-per-week man has performed remarkably compared to those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues, ranking in the top 1% for pressures made and in the top 3% for blocks and tackles made.
Much like in the Phillips-Rice axis, it can be Kamara offering the silky, ball-playing qualities in the centre of the park, while the current Leeds man provides the intense and tireless energy that has become his trademark both at international level and at Elland Road.
Gerrard could well have the perfect partnership on his hands, he just needs NSWE to back him sufficiently to make it happen.