Kalvin Phillips Must Consider His Future at Leeds to Achieve His Potential

Daniel Feliciano
Dec 11, 2020, 8:00 PM GMT
Kalvin Phillips is Leeds United through and through
Kalvin Phillips is Leeds United through and through | Pool/Getty Images

As Leeds United continue to win the hearts of neutrals in the Premier League, there is one man who stands out more than the rest.

Kalvin Phillips signed for Leeds as a 14-year-old and has become their best player over the last 18 months under Marcelo Bielsa.

A box-to-box midfielder by trade, the legendary Argentine manager saw his excellent technique and passing range and moulded him into the anchor who is essentially the quarter-back of his system.

Phillips is now a regular for England
Phillips is now a regular for England | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Since being promoted to England's top flight this summer, Phillips has seen his reputation burgeon exponentially. He found himself in the England senior squad before he'd made his Premier League debut and is now a regular among Gareth Southgate's picks.

As Leeds' man-to-man, attacking brand of football has won them plenty of admirers, it's often the 25-year-old whose performance they come away talking about.

Most recently in the Yorkshire side's win over Everton at Goodison Park, broadcaster Jamie Carragher sang his praises to high heaven, declaring it one of the best individual performances he'd seen this season.

However, with 14 points from 11 games so far, Leeds haven't been quite as successful as many predicted they would be. They are eight points clear of the relegation zone but with injuries beginning to pick up as the fixture schedule fills out even more, eyes will be on a style that is heavily reliant on out-running the opponent.

Should Leeds fail to really make waves in the division or indeed slide into a relegation fight, or should Marcelo Bielsa opt to leave at the end of his contract in the summer of 2021, then the midfielder will find himself at a crossroads.

His positional sense, excellent passing range and good tackling mean that Phillips is good enough to make a positive difference at almost any club in the league.

Phillips impressed against Liverpool on the opening day
Phillips impressed against Liverpool on the opening day | PHIL NOBLE/Getty Images

In terms of defensive midfielders he's arguably only bettered in the division by Fabinho, Fernandinho and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. That leaves 16 clubs where he would become the number one starter, but he could still do a job for those sides too.

At Liverpool, Phillips could easily revert to his previous box-to-box role but apply the same principles he currently does to his game. His fitness and running in the Leeds team would see him transition to a Jurgen Klopp system effortlessly and his skillset would certainly be of use to the champions.

As Fernandinho is now in his mid-30s, City could look to Phillips as an alternative. Rodri has been good for City but there are still question marks over his adaptability to the Premier League, and Phillips would certainly provide competition.

Phillips is loved by the Leeds United faithful
Phillips is loved by the Leeds United faithful | Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Phillips has shown that he has the ability to play at the top level for England, so Champions League football surely awaits in the not-too-distant future.

Currently though, he finds himself in a similar boat to a certain Jack Grealish. He is the poster boy of his club. It's arguably his dream job, playing regularly and being the best player for Leeds United. The likelihood is however, that he will never reach the pinnacle of the game with them.

It's highly unlikely that Leeds fans would begrudge him a move to a top side given the level of his performances over recent years and his love for the club is undying. But he will surely want to achieve some success with his boyhood club.

Phillips could find himself in a similar situation to Jack Grealish sooner rather than later
Phillips could find himself in a similar situation to Jack Grealish sooner rather than later | Michael Regan/Getty Images

This summer may be too soon, but if his performances continue into next season and through the Euro 2020 tournament with England, expect the big boys to come knocking.

If they do, Phillips will have to make the decision about whether to cap his career and become a Leeds United legend or reach his peak at the top of the game where his ability deserves to take him.