After lifting the Premier League trophy, Manchester City players have been given the break they deserved but the Board and coaching staff are now busy in search of players to strengthen their squad for the next season. After acquiring the services of one of the best attackers in Haaland, Pep Guardiola seems to have set his sight on Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips in order to replace departed club legend Fernandinho.
Phillips joined Leeds in 2010 as a youth academy player and graduated in 2014. Since then he has become one of Leeds’ most important players and have helped them to rise through lower leagues and earn promotion to the PL. He has earned a national call-up and even helped Gareth Southgate and England to reach the Euros final.
Let’s discuss why this transfer might be ideal for Manchester City:
Pep Guardiola has been reportedly allocated a spending budget of £300 million. Already spending some of it on Haaland, he still has good amount of money left for spending. While there might be a couple of departures of first-team players so Pep can spend heavy on those positions. Strategy behind Kalvin Phillips will be to bring him as a cover to Rodri. Hence, Pep might not spend too much for a backup player. If the reports of relegation clause in Phillips’ contract are true, City could sign him for just £25 million.
£25 million is like a pocket change for Manchester City. While he earns just £38,000 of wages per week at Leeds. Hence, even his wages won’t cause any disturbance in Manchester City’s existing wage structure. Prospect of bringing him at the Etihad looks financially sustainable for Txiki & Co. Hence, this can be one reason why Manchester City should try getting his services this summer.
Everyone knows how much Premier League teams have become aware about developing domestic talents. Big clubs have started to acquire the services of English players to save themselves from FA. PL has a mandatory rule to have at the most 17 non homegrown players in a squad limited to 25 players.
To qualify as a homegrown player, one must be English or Welsh citizen and must be from a club associated with FA for 3 years before turning 21. Currently Manchester City has Carson, Walker, Stones, Ake, Grealish, Foden and Sterling as homegrown players for next season. If City wants to have a full squad of 25 players, they must fill the space of 1 more homegrown spot. With the departure of Fernandinho and addition of Alvarez and Haaland, City will have a total of 21 registered players. There is a dire need to add a left-back and a defensive midfielder in the squad. This will increase the count to 23; while players like Palmer and Delap won’t need to be registered as they count as u-21 players fulfilling the academy criteria. Hence, addition of Kalvin Phillips will enable City to add 1 more non British player in the squad.
With Cucurella’s rumors growing strong as the transfer window progresses, City should land Kalvin Phillip’s signature first to set them free of all the limitations in signing foreign players.
Since becoming a full International, Kalvin Phillips has got the opportunities to play in various set ups. Before the last season, he was used as an anchorman in Bielsa’s set up at Leeds. For Gareth Southgate he was used in a double-pivot midfield partnering Declan Rice. This unlocked new freedom for Phillips as he was able to participate more in the build-up play, often carrying the ball forward. While at Championship, he also lined up in a 3 man defense and played the ball from back. This season, Marsch used him in various roles in midfield. Against the likes Brentford and Everton, he was allowed the license to march forward but against the likes of Brighton and Palace, his manager asked him to shield the defense and do the dirty work in the midfield.
Hence we can easily assume that Kalvin Phillips has the ability to play with and without the ball. His passing ability is also good with respect to the way Leeds plays. 86% pass success rate could make him good addition at City as he will have the opportunity to touch the ball multiple times and play simple short passes.
This task must not ignore the fact that Phillips is also great at supplying long-range passes. With the addition of Haaland, City could switch to a more direct style of play. Hence, his long passing skill will be useful in such situations as he already has 3.5 accurate long balls p90 which is more than Gundogan and Bernardo Silva.
If we imagine Pep’s idea to include Phillips, he will mostly be used in centre of the midfield 3. His agility and speed is an advantage over Rodri but, City might lose the aerial edge with Phillips. But, he will add advantage in long balls, swift ground passes, tackling and shot blocks. He won’t be a like for like Rodri back up but, a slightly different player. If Pep wishes to have players with different skillsets from each other, Kalvin Phillips is the man City should keep tabs on this summer.