With Kalvin Phillips having grown into an England international under Marcelo Bielsa’s leadership at Leeds, the real question for the Whites boss is how to build his midfield around his talisman.
Phillips is one of the first-names on the team-sheet, and it’s no surprise that he’s missed just four Premier League games this season, and even that was down to him picking up an injury.
His importance to the way Leeds play cannot be understated, and it’s exactly why Darren Bent has said he performs a “unique” role for the Whites.
Mateusz Klich has been the man Bielsa has usually turned to alongside him in central midfield, but in Milan starlet Tommaso Pobega, they could find Phillips’ perfect partner in crime.
According to reports, Leeds are one of two Premier League sides named as being interested in Pobega, and he’s got the ability and profile to form a really formidable partnership in the engine room alongside Phillips.
The 6 foot 2 central midfielder is currently out on loan at fellow Serie A outfit Spezia, where he’s been putting in some impressive performances, not least against the division’s big boys – he’s scored against both Napoli and Juventus.
His manager at Spezia said: “Pobega is a young lad, who has shown he can have an important future. I am convinced if he improves on the ball and doesn’t give it away so often, he can do great things, as he has the physicality and times his forward runs really well.”
Having someone in midfield with the kind of dynamism that Pobega does, could be exactly what Phillips needs. The Cult of Calcio described him as a “hard worker that never seems to give up”, and that he brings an “element of surprise” going forward.
As much as he can be an offensive threat, the Italian sticks to his defensive task well, averaging 1.1 tackles and 2.6 duels won per game – only Phillips makes significantly more tackles (2.7) than the Spezia starlet out of Leeds’ current midfield options.
Having Phillips screen the defence, and allowing Pobega to become more of a box-to-box presence could give Bielsa’s side a real balance and ensure they don’t get caught out too much in the transitions.
If Victor Orta is searching for someone to form the basis of this Leeds midfield for the years to come, then striking a deal for the 21-year-old seems like the perfect way to go about it.
Pobega looks like he could be the kind of addition that can help reshape Bielsa’s engine room and become one of the final pieces of the puzzle over these coming seasons.