Thoughts on Phillips to Manchester United, including possible swap deal to sway Leeds

Manchester United are making advances in moves to sign Kalvin Phillips, The MEN reported on Thursday.

Phillips would help shape a new-look midfield under Erik ten Hag, and there is a lot to be said on the potential signing.

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A perfect fit for Ten Hag

Phillips was a player loved by former Leeds coach Marcelo Bielsa. The England international has a great mix of technical skills and grit, and could flourish as United’s new number six.

Phillips has proven his quality outside Leeds, tremendous at Euro 2020, and is ready for a bigger challenge. The appeal of working under Ten Hag could help sway him.

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He is capable of anchoring the midfield in a way United require, without just being a ‘destroyer’. Phillips can play, with an excellent passing range, and he could be the player the Dutchman is looking for.

The 26-year-old is at a stage of his career where he has to make a choice, whether to be a one-club man or to pursue a more exciting future.

The Leeds problem

The one reason we have never taken Kalvin Phillips seriously as a potential target is not because of a lack of talent, it is because he plays for Leeds United.

Yes, players have left Leeds for United before, notably Alan Smith along with Rio Ferdinand and Eric Cantona, but this is Leeds’ chance to show they won’t repeat the same mistakes.

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They appear set to avoid relegation and also sell Raphinha, meaning there is no financial pressure to sell Phillips.

The move could be reliant on Phillips pushing it through, and this is difficult. He would not want to ruin his relationship with the Leeds fans, and has previously made comments on social media indicating he would not move to United.

There is a risk here that United spend weeks pursuing Phillips and it ends up as a dead end, so United need to have alternatives.

How James Garner could play a role

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Phillips could give United a new look, and form an exciting partnership with returning loanee James Garner. The pair have far more technical quality than Fred and Scott McTominay and could transform how United play.

However, there is a possibility Garner could be more useful initially as part of a swap deal and spend a season on loan at Leeds, gaining experience in the Premier League.

The Athletic reported last month Leeds were keen on a move for Garner, who United would not want to sell permanently, unless Ten Hag sanctioned it.

One way or another, a loan or permanent exit could help attract Leeds to do business with United for Phillips, and open the door for a deal.

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