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Leeds United should stay clear of re-signing ex-midfielder

Leeds United are being linked with a move to re-sign Kalvin Phillips. While it may be tempting, they should avoid bringing him back to Elland Road.

During his time at the club, Phillips was loved by fans and coaching staff alike. He earned the nickname ‘the Yorkshire Pirlo’ for his masterful midfield displays.

That was a long time ago though, and after a disastrous £45 million transfer to treble winners, Manchester City, the midfielder has hardly kicked a ball.

He’s currently failing to impress on loan at West Ham. Phillips was even berated by fans as he entered the team bus following the Hammers 4-3 defeat to Newcastle United.

Kalvin Phillips. Credit: Imago Images

A change in tactics

Like Marcelo Bielsa before him, Daniel Farke prefers attacking football, utilising a patient, possession-based tactic to help wear down opponents. Unfortunately for Phillips, the two coaches want different things from their midfield.

Phillips thrived under Bielsa because he was afforded the time to take control of the match. Farke prefers his central midfielders to press harder, regain possession, and retain it by playing simple passes.

The England international has the natural ability to be able to do this, but given his lack of fitness over the past couple of seasons, he may not be ready for such a physical task.

If Leeds United were to get promoted, it would be risky to have someone who isn’t ready play such an important role.

Fitness levels

It was harsh of Pep Guardiola to call Phillips out publically for his lack of fitness, but that doesn’t mean he was wrong.

The 29-year-old has struggled for fitness since leaving Leeds United, allegedly turning up to Manchester City’s pre-season overweight.

Since joining West Ham, these issues have persisted having only started three Premier League games for the club. Not only has he barely started, he hasn’t finished a game for the Hammers, either getting substituted or sent off.

Fitness is something that can be regained, but it takes time. Something Leeds and Farke may not have much of should they secure promotion.

The verdict

There is no doubt Phillips is a fantastic player, there is a reason a manager as smart as Bielsa trusted him so much.

He also loves the club, he’s Leeds through and through. We totally understand why so many fans would love to see him back.

Perhaps though, it’s time to move on from Phillips and use the large amount of money it would cost to bring him back elsewhere.

Just like in the movies, returns don’t always end well.

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