Leeds United are seemingly on the brink of promotion to the Premier League.
With just nine games of the season left, they have a seven-point buffer over third-placed Fulham. The suspension of professional football in England due to the current worldwide pandemic could not have come at a worse time but, providing the season does resume, the Whites will be hoping to confirm their status amongst the elite.
Kalvin Phillips has been a vital cog in Marcelo Bielsa’s midfield since the Argentine arrived at the club, and that can be reflected in his Transfermarkt valuation.
Here, we take a look at three reasons behind that increase…
Before the internationally revered managed turned up at Elland Road, Phillips was more of an attack-minded midfielder – he scored seven goals during the 2017/18 campaign. However, the former Athletic Bilbao boss had other ideas for the 24-year-old, instead seeing him as a deep-lying playmaker.
In the last two seasons, his average WhoScored ratings stand at 6.98 and 7.2 – they are the best of his career.
His passing accuracy has gone up to over 80%, whilst he has 1.9 key passes per game this term – one more than he has ever managed before. His goals have dropped – he has just two in the league in the last two campaigns – but Bielsa’s influence on him has been truly remarkable.
Now dubbed the Yorkshire Pirlo by the adoring Elland Road faithful, Phillips is the beating heart of the midfield.
That the Whites lost two of the three games he was absent from due to his recent suspension speaks volumes about his importance to Bielsa’s free-flowing system.
His performances in the second tier have caught the eye of some of the big boys as well.
Tottenham were said to be eyeing him for much of last summer, with the Yorkshire outfit holding out for a bid of £30m for one of their star assets.
Aston Villa were believed to have made an offer of £11m for his services, which was knocked back. Whilst Spurs were unable to convince Leeds to sell up, they remain interested in him, and are even believed to be keeping close tabs on his progress in the Championship.
If Leeds do fail to get promoted, he will have no lack of suitors.
The recognition for his performances do not stop there, either. Such has been the quality he has displayed, prior to football’s widespread hiatus rumours surfaced suggesting he was set to be named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the scheduled friendlies against Italy and Denmark, per Telegraph via Leeds Live.
Of course, that tournament has now been postponed to next year, but that may just give Phillips an even better chance of making the squad – he has 12 more months to impress.
Even if he doesn’t make it to that competition, though, expect him to be selected sooner rather than later.