Asked about the Englishman’s future, O’Rourke stated how Gerrard’s presence in the dugout could be to Villa’s advantage: “I think the chance to maybe work under a top midfielder, like Gerrard was, might appeal to Kalvin Phillips.
“He might think it would help improve his own game. There will be lots that Villa would be hoping might appeal to Phillips if it does come down to a race for his signature.”
Recent reports suggested that the Midlands side – alongside Newcastle United – have emerged as frontrunners in the race for his signature, albeit with the 19-cap international also reportedly a ‘top target’ for Manchester City.
Any deal is not likely to come cheap for any of those sides, however, with reports that it could take as much as £60m to prise him from Elland Road, with Jesse Marsch leading the club to safety ending any hopes of a securing him for a potentially reduced fee.
While that assessment would suggest that Phillips is keen to work under the Premier League legend, the reverse could also be true, with Gerrard potentially relishing the chance to add the £45m-rated man to his side.
The Villa Park outfit have already added Marseille youngster Boubacar Kamara to their midfield ranks, although a further addition could be on the cards, with the Leeds man offering the flexibility to play in a holding role but also in a more aggressive, number eight role as he has done for his country.
Dubbed the “best modern midfielder” by legendary coach Fabio Capello, the £38k-per-week monster set the world alight for the Three Lions at Euro 2020, forging an immense partnership with West Ham’s Declan Rice.
Although injury has since halted his progress, he still recorded some notable statistics for his current side in the 2021/22 campaign, averaging 1.2 interceptions and 2.7 tackles per game in his 20 league outings.
He has also impressed compared to his peers in Europe’s top five leagues, ranking in the top 4% for blocks, the top 3% for tackles and the top 2% for pressures made, illustrating his workman-like quality in the centre of the park.
It is no real surprise then to see the clamour for his services this summer, although it remains to be seen whether he will be able to forego his emotional attachment to his current side.
That being said, the prospect to work under Gerrard may just be the carrot that he needs in order to make a departure.