It was reported yesterday that Aston Villa could yet make a move for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who they have “long been admirers of“, having previously bid a reported £25m for the player back in the Summer of 2019.
This year, things could be different though, due to the sacking of boss Marcelo Bielsa, who wasn’t just a fan-favourite but was also a player-favourite among the likes of Phillips – who left him a heartwarming farewell message.
After the midfielder’s impressive showings at the European Championships last summer, it seemed unlikely that he would be heading anywhere but a ‘top 6’ club competing in European competition should he leave Leeds, but with the club languishing above the relegation places, a move to Villa wouldn’t be shocking in the slightest.
There is even a possibility that he could line-up alongside AC Milan star Franck Kessie, who has a “serious” offer on the table from the West Midlands club – which would surely create one of the Premier League’s best midfield trios with John McGinn or Jacob Ramsey slotting in the other position.
Villa boss Steven Gerrard must be licking his lips at the prospect of deploying any three of those four names, in his midfield system that aims to win back possession quickly and transform defence into attack often with just a few touches – something which the “perfect” midfield brute is well-known for.
The likelihood of both deals being completed at this stage isn’t high, but should journalist Ashley Preece’s claim that the club are ready for “a summer of big change” and complete a number of outgoing transfers, then funding may potentially not be a problem.
Phillips, who was rated at a whopping £60m last year, has had a season plagued with injury and fitness problems, but we all know the quality that he possesses, and his attitude, mentality and work rate makes him the ideal ‘Gerrard’ midfielder – so if the deal is there to be done, it simply must be completed.
Alternatively, Gerrard could still swoop for his former Rangers star Joe Aribo, who was heavily linked with a move in December, and would also slot into the midfield three perfectly, having played in a Gerrard system previously before.
Completing an impressive 83.2% of his passes per game this season, as well as an eye-catching 8.60 passes under pressure per game, Aribo would also likely cost significantly less – having a valuation of just £9m.