Former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan believes that Kalvin Phillips is the best defensive midfielder in the Championship and that he would also be the best in the Premier League too.
The ex-striker was raving about the 23-year-old following the Whites’ 0-0 draw against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, where Phillips played 90 minutes (via BBC Sport).
It has been another excellent season so far for the midfielder, who has been attracting the attention of several Premier League clubs.
Both Burnley and Aston Villa were thought to be interested in signing him in the summer (per the Telegraph), whilst Manchester United are also believed to have been watching the Yorkshireman (via the Sun).
Phillips has opted to commit his long-term future to the club by signing a new contract at Elland Road recently (via BBC Sport). But Whelan believes that if he does make the step up to the top flight either with Leeds or with another club he will not look out of place.
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan said: “He is the best defensive midfielder in the Championship and probably you know in the Premier League, if you think about that specific role.”
There is no doubt that Phillips is an exceptional young player who in all likeliness can make the step up to the Premier League. Indeed he has shown himself as a top performer in the defensive midfield position this season, and has averaged a 7.45 rating playing it on WhoScored.
However, to claim that he would be the best holding midfielder in the top flight before he has even played in that division seems a little over the top.
At this moment, it’s hard to argue that Phillips is on the same level in terms of stature as the likes of Fernandinho, who has just helped Manchester City win back-to-back Premier League titles, or Fabinho who was crucial in Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League win in June. Indeed, the likes of Wilfred N’didi average more tackles per game than him (5 to 4.1) while 16 midfielders are registered on WhoScored as averaging above Phillips’ 1.4 interceptions over the same period.
Yes, Phillips is a good player and yes, he could become a top Premier League defensive midfielder in years to come if his performances in the second tier are anything to go by. It’s just that he is not quite at that level just yet.
Leeds fans, how good do you think Kalvin Phillips is? And do you agree with Whelan that he would be the top defensive midfielder in the Premier League? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
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