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Kalvin Phillips has been one of the foundation pieces of Leeds’ push for promotion to the Premier League. Marcelo Bielsa has built his team around the midfielder and it has been one of the key factors propelling the Whites into the top two of the Championship just over a third of the way into the campaign.
Everyone remembers how the club were in a similar position in the second tier last term, only to fall away in the closing stages of the season. Therefore, Bielsa and his side have to ensure that they seize upon their window to get promoted to the top flight otherwise it could result in players of the ilk of Phillips leaving Elland Road.
The 23-year-old has been linked with a number of clubs in the Premier League. Manchester United are one of the sides that are said to have a serious interest in the midfielder, and that is a heart-breaking thought for all Leeds fans with the potential of seeing one of their best prospects in recent years moving across the Pennines to play for the Red Devils.
It would take a club of that calibre to lure him away or potentially one even higher in the table as Manchester United are currently an outsider in the Premier League betting odds to finish in the top four. A side such as Leicester would also appeal given their revolution under Brendan Rodgers, which has seen the Foxes move back into contention for the Premier League crown.
Fortunately for Bielsa, Phillips has declared his loyalty to Leeds. He has insisted that he’s not looking to move on in the near future. The midfielder has good reason to say that with Leeds currently on course to end their 16-year absence from the top flight.
Phillips is the key man in a system under of one of the interesting and enigmatic managers in the sport. He owes a great deal to the club for bringing through the academy. As long as they are trending in the right direction and the 23-year-old continues to thrive under the Argentine, there’s no reason for him to look elsewhere.
However, the window of opportunity for promotion can close fast. Sheffield Wednesday were close on a couple of occasions to returning to the elite, but missed out and have been treading water in mid-table since. Derby County and Reading are other sides that failed to capitalise on their openings, which resulted in the loss of players along the way.
Phillips is happy to remain at Leeds for now, but if the club suffers another collapse in the second half of the campaign, he may have to consider his future. He will not want to waste time playing in the second tier when he could potentially feature for a team in the top half of the Premier League or even better one vying for the crown and in the Champions League.
The 23-year-old will also have ambitions to play for England and that is unlikely to come in the Championship. His loyalty to the club is refreshing and long may it continue, but Bielsa and co. cannot put it to the test for the long term.