Former Wigan Athletic manager Paul Jewell believes that Liverpool defender Nat Phillips will want to depart Anfield this summer.
The 24-year-old performed admirably last season after filling in for the injured trio of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, but their returns to fitness and the arrival of Ibrahima Konate has seen the £7.2m-rated beast slip down the Reds’ pecking order.
As a result, Phillips has been linked with a departure in recent weeks, with Brighton & Hove Albion, Southampton, Newcastle United and Burnley all credited with an interest in the centre-back.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Football FanCast, Jewell claimed that Phillips would not be content with returning to the bench in 2021/22 after playing such a key part last term.
“I would imagine that once you’ve had the taste of playing at the top level, you want to play week in, week out, whether that’s for Liverpool or not,” Jewell said.
“There’s nothing quite like playing, and I’m sure Nat Phillips doesn’t want to go back to playing in League Cup and FA Cup games five or six times a season.
“That’s the problem you have when you give players a chance – the hunger and taste for it is there now,” he concluded.
It’s hard to criticise the 6 ft 2 beast after his admirable showing throughout the second half of 2020/21 when he made 15 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, playing a crucial part as Jurgen Klopp’s finished third in the top-flight standings.
However, while Phillips obviously excels at the traditional aspects of defending, he evidently struggles with some of the modern demands placed upon a centre-back.
As per WhoScored, Phillips recorded 0.8 blocks per league game in 2020/21 and 4.8 clearances, the highest tallies compared to his teammates.
He won several plaudits after answering Klopp’s desperate cry for help, including former England and Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp.
“Nat Phillips has had an unbelievable time, he’s full of confidence. He’s a throwback defender,” said Redknapp.
“He wants to make blocks, he wants to make tackles, he’s got great anticipation. He knows his limitations. Right now, he must think he’s in dreamland.”
Therefore, Phillips’ proposed exit could be the ideal solution for all parties. Liverpool receive a significant boost to their depleted transfer kitty, Phillips gets regular game time and his buyer purchases a quality, old-fashioned defender.