Is Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips England’s next star midfielder?
Leeds United are currently flying high at the summit of England’s second-tier, and if the latest Championship odds are anything to go by, then the Whites will be returning to the Premier League next season for the first time in 16 years, and as champions!
However, the story of Leeds United’s return to the countries top-flight will be somewhat of a fairy tale for one player in particular, and that man is Kalvin Phillips.
The 24-year-old, who has been dubbed the ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ by the Leeds faithful, joined the Elland Road side 16 years ago as an eight-year-old, and has watched his boyhood side socially distance themselves from the Premier League ever since.
Current Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa is a massive fan of his promising midfield maestro, and even studied all 51 of Phillips’ appearances in the famous all-white strip of Leeds, before he took over the West Yorkshire side – which led him to start building his squad around the 24-year-old. Meanwhile, the Three Lions gaffer Gareth Southgate has also been keeping tabs on Phillips, alongside teammate Ben White!
“I’m very conscious there will be a group of around 30 to 35 who have been in and around our squad the past 12-18 months, who will be in the frame, but there will be some guys who come late.
“We’ve talked about those two but it could be a Ben White, who has been on loan at Leeds, or a Kalvin Phillips, that haven’t played Premier League football yet. Those sorts of players could come into the frame. We’re always open to what it looks like,” said Southgate, who was tipped to pick Phillips in England’s squad to face Italy and Denmark before they were postponed due to coronavirus.
Phillips may be hot-headed, having been booked 29 times and sent off twice since he became a first team regular three seasons ago, but, luckily, his ability in midfield, and silky passing skills, are what he is better known for!
The 24-year-old, who has made 35 appearances for Leeds in the Championship this season, creates, on average, two chances per game, and, with a pass completion rate of 81.8%, makes an impressive 54.5 passes every 90 minutes. To put that into perspective, that’s more than West Ham’s Declan Rice, and Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Winks, who are two of his main competition for a spot in the England side, aside from Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, of course!
However, it’s not just when going forward that Phillips shines, the Yorkshire lad is also important defensively for the Whites. On average, per game, the midfielder makes 2.8 tackles, 1.4 interceptions, 1.3 clearances, whilst he also dribbles past an opposition player 1.4 times per game.
With Leeds more than likely going to be in the Premier League next season, Phillips will have the opportunity to prove himself on one of the world’s biggest stages, and if he can step up to the challenging tasks England’s top-flight will throw at him, then he might just be heading to the European Championships as an England player next summer!