Championship

Leeds: Henry Winter lauds Phillips as the ‘heartbeat and lungs’ of Whites

Leeds: Henry Winter lauds Phillips as the ‘heartbeat and lungs’ of Whites

The Times’ Henry Winter has lauded Kalvin Phillips as being the ‘heartbeat and lungs’ of Leeds United, after the Elland Road outfit secured the midfielder’s services until the summer of 2024.

Leeds announced on Monday that Phillips had agreed to sign a new, five-year contract with the West Yorkshire outfit, having rejected numerous offers of more than £20million in the summer from Premier League sides, as they were insistent that the 23-year-old was integral to their plans.

No player has featured more frequently than the defensive midfielder under Marcelo Bielsa in the Championship this term, with Phillips, Adam Forshaw, Ben White and Kiko Casilla the only men to have played in every available second of action (WhoScored) thus far.

Only Mateusz Klich featured more often than Phillips last season, too, with the Poland international racking up 4,000 minutes on the field in the second-tier compared to Whites product Phillips’ 3,684, as he began to thrive in a deeper midfield role.

Winter has now lauded Phillips’ presence as the midfield anchor, and how vital his influence has grown to be.

“The heartbeat and lungs of Leeds,” The Times’ Chief Football Writer noted on Twitter after the Whites announced Phillips’ new contract. “Pressing, repossessing, passing simply and effectively, always looking to quicken momentum. Covers for others, keeps the shape, [and] gives everything.

“[Phillips’] new deal underlines Leeds’ ambition. [Applauds] to player, manager and board.”

Winter was not the only journalist to laud Leeds and Phillips for reaching an agreement, either, with The Athletic’s Phil Hay sharing: “For all the talk about who was coming in, Phillips not going was as crucial as any deal in the transfer market. No idea how Leeds would have set about replacing him.”

Already in the six Championship fixtures played so far this season, Phillips has amassed 403 total passes – the most of any Leeds player and the third-most of any player in the second-tier, per WhoScored data.

The 23-year-old also ranks joint-fourth among Whites players for key passes (6), third for aerial duels won (12), first for crosses (3) and passes (6) blocked and second for interceptions (8), enough to lead the division for crosses blocked by a central midfielder.

Clearly, then, Winter and Hay are right to laud Phillips as being a key part of Bielsa’s plans, and one that would have been a fraught challenge to replace.

Leeds fans, can you see Phillips earning an England call-up by Gareth Southgate for his efforts in the Championship? Let us know in the comments below…

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