Dean Ashton has suggested Kalvin Phillips could look to leave Leeds United at the end of the season, should Marcelo Bielsa fail to win promotion to the Premier League.
The defensive midfielder has become a star and crucial member of the first-team under the Argentine manager and has recently committed his future to the Elland Road outfit with a new contract.
However, Ashton believes that new deal will only help the Whites to receive more money for him in the summer and will have a fight on their hands if they do not secure top-flight football for the 2020/21 campaign.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Football League World, the former England international admitted he would be “absolutely astonished” if he did not look to move on.
“All it means is that Leeds will get a bit more for him if he does leave because he has that longer-term on his deal now. He’ll probably end up getting more money personally too.
“But I genuinely think that he wants to stay and he wants to get them promoted; I don’t think there’s any doubt about that but there’s a lot of Premier League clubs looking at him.
“You do wonder if they don’t go up this season, though, will he be on his way? Because I would be absolutely astonished if he didn’t move if they didn’t go up next summer.”
Indeed, it would, perhaps, be too difficult to disagree with Ashton’s viewpoint as Phillips has already attracted plenty of Premier League interest from his outstanding contributions last season.
Aston Villa were heavily credited with an interest in the midfielder throughout the summer – with one report suggesting the 23-year-old was prepared to try and force a move to the Villans.
With average figures of 2.6 tackles, 1.3 interceptions and 2.6 clearances in his 44 Championship appearances last season (WhoScored), it is not difficult to see why there was such a demand for him.
Reassuringly for Leeds, though, those figures do not appear to be a one-off for Bielsa’s side as he has already managed to achieve an impressive 4.6 tackles, 1.3 interceptions and 1.7 clearances in his seven matches so far (stats prior to their Saturday lunchtime meeting with Derby County).
However, the Whites may only be able to enjoy the performances from Phillips for just a little longer, unless they finally make their return to England’s top-flight for the first time in 16 years.
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