Manchester United have reportedly learned the asking price of Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips after identifying him as a top transfer target.
What’s the story?
According to the Daily Star, United have turned their attention to the highly-rated 25-year-old after becoming increasingly concerned at West Ham United’s £90 million valuation of Declan Rice.
As a result, the Red Devils hierarchy are now plotting a move for Rice’s England colleague Phillips, with the Leeds man set to cost £60m, a considerably lower amount than the West Ham ace.
The report states that: “United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made signing a defensive midfielder his No.1 priority in next summer’s transfer window.
“Rice has been on United’s radar for the past 12 months, but executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is concerned about the Hammers’ £90m valuation. Old Trafford bosses believe Rice, 22, is not worth what the Hammers want and are now prepared to look elsewhere when it comes to filling the position.
“And with Liverpool leading the race to sign Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund, Phillips is the preferred alternative.”
He’s a big upgrade on Scott McTominay
Under the tutelage of current Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, Phillips has established himself as one of the top defensive midfielders in the Premier League, becoming a pivotal part of Gareth Southgate’s international setup as a result.
His eye-catching performances at the base of the Yorkshire outfit’s engine room have earned several plaudits, and when looking at his underlying numbers, it’s easy to understand why.
Currently, Scott McTominay is often deployed at the base of the United midfield by Solskjaer despite the Scotsman’s natural role as a box-to-box dynamo.
Bringing Phillips to Old Trafford would, therefore, not only free up the 24-year-old to play further up the pitch but also offer an upgrade in a key area of the field.
As per fbref.com, the Leeds academy graduate has made 3.20 tackles per 90 this season compared to McTominay’s tally of 2.14, and Phillips has also outperformed the United beast in terms of interceptions, making 0.96 per 90 to his 0.71.
Phillips has also been dribbled past on fewer occasions by oppositions players, with an attacker getting past him just 0.8 times per 90 whereas attackers have skipped past McTominay on 2.14 occasions per game.
Therefore, the prospect of the Leeds beast playing just behind the more attack-minded Paul Pogba is surely a mouth-watering prospect for Manchester United fans, and a large section will be urging football director John Murtough to get this deal over the line.