Phillips exit prevented
The 23-year-old has been on the fringes of the first-team for some time and been on multiple season-long loan moves, including a spell at Bolton Wanderers that was cut short due to injury, and last season at German second division outfit Stuttgart.
Klopp had previously described Phillips as “outstanding” after the youngster impressed during the Reds’ pre-season tour in 2018 (via Goal).
Phillips played a significant amount of football in Europe, providing two assists from 16 starts and 19 appearances in total (Whoscored). But despite the sale of Dejan Lovren to Zenit St Petersburg this summer, the Englishman’s future at Anfield looked in doubt.
Championship clubs Blackburn Rovers, Bristol City and Swansea City were believed to be interested in acquiring the defender’s services (via Express). But, speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp confirmed that his exit from Anfield broke down at the 11th hour.
Klopp says it looked like Nat Phillips was going to be sold in the summer, but it fell through at the last minute. Name-checks him, Williams and Koumetio as CB cover, not van den Berg.
— Jack Sear (@JackSear) October 23, 2020
Deeper crisis averted
If Liverpool did go on to sell Philiips, their defensive crisis would have been much worse than it currently is.
With Virgil van Dijk out for a significant amount of time and Joel Matip still struggling with fitness issues, Joe Gomez stands as the club’s only fully fit and established defender, with Rhys Williams getting his opportunity in the Carabao Cup and still too inexperienced to be relied on.
Phillips’ presence in the team bolsters their defence, albeit not significantly. But right now, Klopp needs all of the defensives reinforcements that he can get his hands on to keep his title defence intact.
However, Phillips could still depart in January. With the Reds linked with the likes of Dayot Upamecano and Ozan Kabak, time will tell what the 6 foot 2 centre-back’s future holds.
In other news, European footballer ‘dreams’ of playing for Liverpool.
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