Leeds United’s director of football Victor Orta can end the club’s ongoing nightmare over Kalvin Phillips by signing Derby County sensation Jason Knight.
Reports in recent days have suggested that Marcelo Bielsa’s side are one of a number of teams interested in signing the 20-year-old, and now, according to ExWHUEmployee, West Ham have also entered the race.
It’s been suggested that the Hammers hold a strong interest in the midfielder, and that they will battle it out with the likes of Leeds, Newcastle and Everton among others.
Since really breaking onto the scene during the 2016/2017 campaign – he made 33 appearances in the Championship that season – Phillips has become a cornerstone of this Leeds United midfield.
And while that has seen the Whites eventually get promoted to the Premier League and seen him earn great individual honours by getting recognised by England at international level, it has exposed a worrying issue at Elland Road: the lack of real cover for him.
Already this season Bielsa’s side have struggled without him, losing two and drawing one of the Premier League games that he has missed, while last year was even worse – they won just two of the nine top-flight matches he wasn’t involved in.
Not only do they miss his technical ability in the middle of the park, but also the kind of presence and leadership that he brings to the table too.
In the 20-year-old Knight, however, Orta could go a long way to addressing that void.
In fact, after making Knight captain just hours after he was appointed as the Rams’ permanent manager, Wayne Rooney has been very quick to shower the youngster with praise.
He said: “He’s very vocal, which is very rare for a young player these days. He gives everything in training – tackling, running. Very similar to the way I was at his age.
“He’s a manager’s dream. He gives everything. He’s the one, not just for the younger players in the dressing room but the older lads, who others can look at. He gives you energy, desire, runs non stop.
“I still want more from him quality-wise – in terms of crosses, shots, goals, assists – but in terms of what we are trying to build for this group of players he fully deserves it whether he’s 19 or whether he’s 30. To get the recognition and experience shows how highly we think of him.”
In his short career thus far, Knight has shown incredible versatility by playing all across midfield and in the wide areas, but has primarily played centrally.
With Rooney talking highly of his industry, leadership and tackling, the Derby starlet looks like he’s ready-made to fill in the shoes of Phillips not just for the long-term, but also in the short-term if the England ace is out injured.