Eyebrows were raised when Manchester City splashed out £45m to sign Kalvin Phillips from Leeds United back in the summer of 2022.
Phillips was among the leading central midfielders in the Premier League at the time and was a regular starter for England. From that perspective, City’s swoop was not all that surprising.
However, the fact Phillips is one year older Rodri who is an automatic selection at City made the move a curious one. Rodri is arguably the world’s leading holding midfielder and when fit and not suspended, he plays.
As such, it’s come as no surprise to see Phillips restricted to just 29 matches since arriving at the Etihad. Even more concerning for the 28-year-old is those 29 outings have totalled just 809 minutes.
What’s more, when Rodri has been absent Pep Guardiola has often turned to a defender to play in a hybrid midfield role.
Rico Lewis, John Stones and Manuel Akanji have all been selected ahead of Phillips in midfield at various stages over the last 18 months.
Phillips’ career has stalled and is reaching a crossroads and what turn it takes next month could have a huge bearing on his international career. Indeed, Phillips simply must start regularly between now and the end of the season to stand any hope of breaking into Gareth Southgate’s starting eleven at Euro 2024.
Phillips has been determined to fight for his place at the Etihad, something that resulted in a summer move failing to materialise. However, he’s since understood to have softened his stance and a January exit – likely via the loan route – looks to be on the cards.
Now, in quotes carried by The Daily Mail, City boss Guardiola has inadvertently put Phillips down in a brutally honest manner. Speaking in a press conference on Friday, Guardiola admitted that try as he might he simply cannot visualise any scenario in which Phillips should be playing football for Man City.
”I don’t know what will happen to Kalvin Phillips,” said Guardiola. “He has good character, I’m so sorry I have not picked him.
“I visualise my team and select a team and I struggle to see him.”
Tottenham, Newcastle ready to rescue Phillips
The Magpies are in the midst of an injury crisis, though the bigger issue in central midfield is Sandro Tonali’s 10-month suspension for breaching betting regulations.
Phillips would thus represent a relatively risk-free option given he’d be signed on loan. His arrival at the base of midfield would also free up Bruno Guimaraes to operate in more of a box-to-box role.
However, Jones also revealed Tottenham are expected to touch base with Man City amid a looming midfield issue of their own.
Pape Sarr and Yves Bissouma will both miss up to a month of action while away at the Africa Cup of Nations in early-2024. Sarr will star for Senegal, while Bissouma will go for glory with Mali. The tournament gets underway on January 13 and runs until February 11.
Spurs would reportedly prefer to sign players under the age of 24, though with their budget prior to player sales limited, compromises may have to be made.
Tottenham are also hunting a centre-half and wide forward. The centre-back chase will take priority, meaning a cheap and cheerful loan for Phillips could have its merits.