talkSPORT host Adrian Durham has claimed that Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka “dreams” of being as good as Kalvin Phillips, after the Leeds United star “outshone everybody” during our FA Cup defeat on Monday night.
A sole second-half effort from Reiss Nelson ensured the Gunners avoided a cup upset at home to Marcelo Bielsa’s Championship title-chasers, a decade on from our memorable day at Old Trafford when a Jermaine Beckford strike helped us beat Manchester United.
The first 45 minutes at the Emirates Stadium suggested a repeat of the Red Devils result could be on the cards as we sprung into action far quicker than Mikel Arteta’s Reds, with Bielsa’s men striking 15 shots to our hosts’ three.
Yet despite the result, 5 ft 8 Phillips’ performance from the centre of Bielsa’s midfield was the story for Durham, who is assured that Xhaka has nothing on the United product who would already be in Gareth Southgate’s England squad if we were a Premier League side.
“In terms of midfield, there was a midfielder for Leeds who outshone everybody. It’s the player Granit Xhaka probably dreams of being,” Durham said on talkSPORT.
“I think he could play for England as well,” Durham added. “I don’t think there is any doubt. And if he had been in the Premier League this season, I think he would be in the England squad [already]!”
Was Phillips the MOTM vs Arsenal in the FA Cup?
Xhaka moved to the Emirates Stadium from Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016 when Arsenal agreed to pay £34million for the Switzerland international.
The 27-year-old has captained his country since September 2018, and led Switzerland to first place in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign after finishing as runners-up to England in the UEFA Nations League Third-Place Play-Off in June.
Xhaka was far from at his best on Monday night, though, as he often struggled to link up with teammate Matteo Guendouzi and severely struggled to defend against the likes of Jack Harrison, Robbie Gotts and Patrick Bamford.
BBC pundit Danny Murphy spoke throughout the match at his surprise of Xhaka not being sent off for the relentless fouls he committed, which former referee Keith Hackett agreed with.
Phillips, meanwhile, won a game-high nine tackles on Monday night, penned one interception and one clearance, along with 31 accurate passes from 37 and took 56 touches, per WhoScored data.
In other Leeds United news, the club are reportedly set to beat Premier League competition to a 6 ft 3 signing.