Kalvin Phillips’s agent Kevin Sharp has told LS11 that Marcelo Bielsa staying at Leeds United this season was a key reason why the midfielder had no interest in leaving Elland Road over the summer.
Leeds appeared to have two key priorities coming out of last season: keeping Bielsa and keeping Phillips. The Englishman had been outstanding during his first season working under the Whites boss, with Bielsa helping to elevate Phillips into one of the best players in the division.
The Yorkshire Evening Post reports Leeds received an offer of over £20 million from Aston Villa for the academy graduate. And they were not the only top flight side interested in him.
But Phillips decided to stay. And he celebrated by signing a new five-year deal in September (via Yorkshire Evening Post).
And after being asked whether any offers threatened to turn Phillips’s head, ex-Whites defender Sharp suggested that it was clear that Phillips was not interested in leaving once Bielsa made a decision on his own future.
“Bielsa was a real deciding factor, him staying,” he told LS11. “So I think potentially that could have turned his head if Bielsa had left because he knows how important he is to his game. He’s like any other player who’s ambitious, he wants to go to the Premier League and he wants to play for England. That’s like any other player. If you don’t, there’s something wrong.
“He wanted that opportunity, certainly under Bielsa again to go, ‘right, I want this opportunity and I want to get there with Leeds’. His family are Leeds through and through and his friends are. And he wants to do it with Leeds United. Once Bielsa committed, I knew that it was down to me then to get the best deal possible.”
TBR View – Bielsa and Phillips staying could be game-changing
It looks to be a game-changer for Leeds to have kept the two men for another campaign.
Leeds fans are well aware that it seems highly unlikely that they can be a Championship club next season and keep hold of Bielsa and Phillips. So the pressure is definitely on to get it right this year.
But the Whites appear to have built on last year. They sit top of the Championship having often looked to be some way short of their best.
And if things click over the coming months, it is difficult to imagine anyone stopping Bielsa, Phillips and Leeds from being together in the Premier League next season.