Newcastle could make a move for Liverpool’s Nat Phillips in the remaining days of the transfer window, according to The Athletic‘s Chris Waugh.
Newcastle are hopeful of signing a centre-back in a bid to address their woeful defensive record – they have the poorest expected goals against (xGA) tally in the entire Premier League.
Their top target is Sevilla’s Diego Carlos, and while he would like to join the Magpies, negotiations with Sevilla are proving difficult.
Phillips was heavily involved at Liverpool last season, helping the Reds to secure a top-four finish in the absences of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez. However, with that trio back fit and Ibrahima Konate signed during the summer, the 24-year-old centre-back has only made four appearances this season.
Waugh wrote for The Athletic that Newcastle are beginning to pursue ‘back-up options’ in case they can’t strike a deal for Carlos.
They are ‘debating’ whether to bring in ‘domestic defenders’, and Phillips is one of the England-based options named.
When you see that Phillips ranks in the 99th percentile among positional peers for clearances and successful aerial duels, you might assume that he’s an ‘old-fashioned’ centre-back (via FBRef). Indeed, that’s how one former team-mate in Andy Lonergan described him, adding that “he’d head a brick wall if he could”.
While Newcastle fans may love that battling spirit, it might be something of a mischaracterisation. Phillips is also reasonably comfortably on the ball, slotting into the 85th percentile for progressive passes.
Liverpool are said to value Phillips at £15m, so this deal could be a lot simpler than their pursuit of Carlos.
In other news, this one-time superstar could land at St James’ Park
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