Former Hull City defender Alex Bruce expects a wealth of sides will forge summer moves looking to sign Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, should Marcelo Bielsa fail to secure promotion into the Premier League.
Saturday’s resounding triumph over Hull City kept our lead over the Play-Off places at five points with third-placed Fulham also beating promotion-hopefuls Preston North End, while reducing our deficit to leaders West Brom to a single point after the Baggies were beaten at home by Wigan Athletic.
Phillips was able to return to the starting line-up at the KCOM Stadium, having been forced to sit out our midweek triumph away to Middlesbrough through injury. It was the first time this league term that the 24-year-old has not featured outside of suspensions.
Bruce is a clear fan of the talent that Phillips possesses, and would be surprised if clubs outside of West Yorkshire are not looking to “get him out of Leeds” ahead of the next transfer window.
“I’d imagine that there’s been a lot of teams looking at him and it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a lot of teams looking to get him out of Leeds,” Bruce told Football Insider.
“I think this year, it’ll be huge. If they don’t go up you’ll see him move. He’ll be hoping, as a Leeds lad, that he can get in the Premier League, and we all know how big a club Leeds is.
“Leeds United in the Premier League is a good club to be at and I’m sure that’s what he’ll be looking to do.”
Could you see Phillips leaving this summer, even with promotion?
Phillips was the subject of plenty of transfer interest last summer, with the club confirming that several offers in excess of £20million were turned down before securing the midfielder’s long-term future with a new, five-year deal in September.
His new terms do include a release clause dependent on the Whites failing to move up to the Premier League at the end of the current season, which is reportedly valued at between £20m and £25m.
Losing Phillips as a result of a late collapse in our promotion hopes would likely see someone come calling willing to trigger his release clause, as he has been key to Bielsa’s plans this season and regularly proven himself as a someone worth England manager Gareth Southgate’s attention.
Phillips has started all 31 of his Championship appearances thus far this term, in which he has attempted the outright fifth-most tackles (135) of all second-tier players, as well as 39 interceptions, 41 clearances, 44 blocks, 1,700 passes and 60 key balls, per WhoScored.
Hopefully Phillips can help us to secure promotion into the Premier League this season, and we don’t have to worry about someone activating his release clause.
In other Leeds United news, a summer free agent has been tipped to earn a new contract at Elland Road.