Manchester City are expected to confirm their second major signing of the summer transfer window shortly, but does inbound England playmaker Kalvin Phillips have what it takes to shine under Pep Guardiola?
Having already won the race for Borussia Dortmund goal machine Erling Haaland — who cost £51million — City have agreed a fee with Leeds United for Phillips, 26. Manchester Evening News understands that agreement is worth an initial £42million rising to £45million with add-ons.
Personal terms are still to be ironed out, but no complications are anticipated in that regard as Guardiola gears up to further improve his star-studded squad that has already picked up four Premier League titles in the last five seasons. Here’s what pundits Gary Neville and Roy Keane have had to say about Phillips.
Phillips and his emergence on the Premier League stage has been regularly charted by Neville and comments that he made about the player, either side of his eye-catching Euro 2020 displays, underline why City have been keen on him. Speaking last summer, Neville said: “Kalvin Phillips is better at passing the ball through the lines at Leeds.
“[Jordan] Henderson and [Declan] Rice are good on the ball, but Phillips is the best out of those three on the ball in terms of accepting the ball and getting it off the back four. It has become a really important area for England so, for me, I would go for Phillips alongside Rice.”
Strengthening that verdict at the start of last season, Neville added: “He came into the Premier League 12 months ago, but he’s now the best English midfielder there is, by far. When you think of players, we always stereotype. Is he a holding player? Is he an attacking player? He’s actually a throwback to someone who can do everything.
“He runs, he tackles, he passes, he can defend, honestly, he’s fantastic. He’s likeable, he also has integrity when he speaks, you like watching him. He runs all day, the stats we see that he produces, the most pressures, is a dream. The work you have to do as a defender and midfielder at Leeds is unreal but he really sets the tone, he’s a fantastic, fantastic player.”
When asked for his views on Phillips around the same time that Neville made those glowing remarks, Keane suggested the 26-year-old needs to add another string to his bow. Keane said: “You still have to be looking for improvements in your team and if you’re being critical of England, those lads in the middle of the park, Rice and Phillips, have they got that creativity?
“But in fairness, they had really good tournaments and you have to look at the positives. With the attacking players England still had high up the pitch, they sacrificed that to go with them two lads [against Hungary].”