Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa could sign a new Kalvin Phillips in Huddersfield Town’s midfield dynamo Lewis O’Brien.
Reports in recent weeks and months had suggested that fellow Premier League side Newcastle were interested in landing the 22-year-old, but it now appears the Whites have entered the race themselves.
According to journalist Alan Nixon, the 5 foot 8 ace is very near to the top of Leeds’ short-list as they look to strengthen their midfield options this summer ahead of the new campaign.
Having come through the academy system at Elland Road, the success Phillips is enjoying is sure to taste that much sweeter for everyone associated with Leeds United.
With the midfielder now starring on the big stage with England in this summer’s EUROs – he’ll likely be involved once again when the Three Lions take on Denmark in the semi-final on Wednesday night – Bielsa will no doubt be searching day and night for the next Phillips.
And in O’Brien, he could certainly get that.
As per Whoscored, he averaged two tackles and one interception per game in the Championship last season, which is only slightly less than the 2.6 tackles and 1.6 interceptions Phillips managed per match in the top-flight.
That kind of defensive tenacity is what has had Huddersfield Town writer Steven Chicken waxing lyrical about the kind of intensity that the 22-year-old plays with.
He said: “O’Brien is a left-footed, tough-tackling central midfielder. Former Huddersfield boss Danny Cowley often praised O’Brien as being “like having two players”, with the midfielder receiving particular praise from his manager and fans alike for his ability and willingness to rush back and win the ball with a clean sliding tackle whenever his side were caught on the counter-attack.
“He certainly has the potential to be (a Premier League player), if he’s not already. His fitness is incredible and he just never seems to get tired, which is one of the biggest difficulties Championship players have when stepping up to the Premier League.
“He’s never going to be a big glamorous name in the Premier League, but he is the kind of wholehearted, committed player that managers love because they do so much of the hard work that helps other players to shine.”
That kind of selfless personality and “incredible” fitness is surely music to the ears of Bielsa given the kind of intensity with which his teams train and play, and how Phillips has emerged as the heartbeat of this Leeds side.
As a “tough-tackling central midfielder” with a real engine and an eye for both a pass and a goal, O’Brien has all the ingredients to emulate Phillips at Elland Road.