Arsenal have been drawn to take on Leeds United at The Emirates Stadium in the third round of the FA Cup which will be Marcelo Bielsa’s first clash against Premier League opposition as Leeds boss – and Manchester United may be watching on.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were recently reported – by The Sun – as taking a look at Leeds’ holding midfielder Kalvin Phillips. The 24-year-old has shone for Leeds under Argentine boss Bielsa, since the tactical genius arrived at Elland Road in 2018.
Prior to Bielsa’s appointment, Phillips was being used as a number 10. But Bielsa has moulded the Thorp Arch academy product into a number four, protecting the defence and acting as a quarterback – anchoring the Leeds midfield.
His performances have more than caught the eye. Aston Villa were desperate to bring Phillips to the Midlands in the summer, while reports have also suggested that Tottenham had an offer of £27million rejected for the midfielder.
Even this season, there has been talk of a Premier League move despite Phillips signing a new Leeds deal until 2024. Some pundits have even suggested that Gareth Southgate should consider trying Phillips in the England squad ahead of Euro 2020.
Phillips will now play against Arsenal in early January, if Bielsa looks to play his strongest side. It is difficult to predict whether Bielsa will rest players and prioritise promotion, given he has never faced Premier League opposition as Leeds manager – not least a team like Arsenal.
Should Phillips play, though, surely Manchester United will be watching. It would give Phillips the ideal stage to prove himself to onlooking Premier League clubs, and prove that he can hack it against the best – as he has done in the Championship.
With Manchester United reportedly interested in signing Phillips, the midfielder will be able to wow Old Trafford talent spotters and Solskjaer his credentials and convince them into tabling a big-money offer in the near future.
Impressing against a side like Arsenal would mean Phillips boasts enough quality to shine in the Premier League, and perhaps convince United into luring the midfielder to Old Trafford.