Leeds United’s defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips has been subjected to speculation over his future in recent weeks.
The Daily Star recently reported that Manchester United have abandoned their pursuit of West Ham and England midfielder Declan Rice in order to focus their efforts on Phillips, as the Red Devils believe he could bolster their options in the middle of the park.
Victor Orta is reportedly looking to extend Phillips’ contract at Elland Road to ward off potential interest, but it remains to be seen whether or not he will be successful in his efforts.
If the local lad does depart in one of the next few transfer windows, Leeds could avoid needing to splash the cash to replace him by dipping into their academy to unearth a gem – Cian Coleman.
The Yorkshire-born Irish youth international was recently named in The Guardian’s Next Generation Class of 2021, with the article stating that he has caught Marcelo Bielsa’s eye whilst playing in the academy set-up.
Much like his fellow Yorkshireman, Coleman can play as a defensive midfielder and as a centre-back, highlighting both his versatility and his defensive strength. His managers have seen that he has the defensive nous to drop back into a central defensive position, whilst he has the technical quality on the ball to play in the holding role in the majority of his games.
He played for Leeds’ U23 side at the age of 15 and is seen within the club as a player who could be the next Phillips to come out of the academy. This highlights the level of quality he is showing in training as they have deemed him too good for his own age group, skipping multiple stages to play for the 23’s.
Therefore, he could be a player with the potential to develop into a first-team star for Leeds moving forward and Bielsa could unearth his talent in the coming months and years. The Argentine has proven, with players like Illan Meslier, that he has the ability as a coach to improve young prospects and he could use that quality to save Victor Orta millions in the transfer market.
If Manchester United now come in with a big-money bid for Phillips and tempt him into quitting Elland Road to chase a Champions League dream, Leeds would need to replace the England international. This could require the club to splash out equally huge figures in order to sign a player with the requisite quality to come in and take over from Phillips in the team.
However, if Bielsa can unleash the ‘next Kalvin Phillips’ in Coleman then there may not be any need for Orta to dip into the market. Therefore, Leeds could save themselves multi-millions by replacing Phillips, if he leaves, with young enforcer Coleman.