Marcelo Bielsa issues verdict over Kalvin Phillips' recent career progression during Leeds United tutelage

Marcelo Bielsa has hailed Kalvin Phillips' recent rise to prominence during his tutelage at Leeds United.

By Joe Urquhart
Sunday, 5th December 2021, 6:00 am

Phillips, who turned 26 earlier this week, has gone from strength to strength under the Argentine's watch in West Yorkshire.

Bielsa arrived at Elland Road in 2018 and in that time the Thorp Arch academy product has turned from a Championship regular to an England international.

Phillips helped hometown club Leeds back into the Premier League after 16 years away before playing every game in the Three Lions run to the Euros final last summer.

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Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips. Pic: Getty

He has become a vital part of the Whites team and one of the first names on the team sheet in LS11 - with Bielsa delighted at how he has progressed over the last three-and-a-half-years.

"He has a specific weight in the games," Bielsa said of his key defensive midfielder.

"He has obtained a prestige that allows him to have a bigger influence in the games. His rivals and his team mates perceive that capacity to influence.

"He has improved a lot in everything, his interpretation of the moments of the game, he knows how to find a solution that an action demands. He has matured a lot in the interpretation of what's happening to take the best solution.

"He has competed at very, very high levels and has shown that the responsibility doesn't inhibit him but it improves him. To be a starter in a team that competes in the final of the Euros where they lost on penalties, to belong to that collective is very, very difficult.

"To arrive at that position is very, very difficult."

Phillips moved to dismiss recent media speculation that he had fallen out with Bielsa behind closed doors.

The Leeds boss was quizzed over his disappointment at the story, which stemmed from Jamie Redknapp's comments on Sky Sports, ahead of his side's clash with Brentford this afternoon.

"It's what's common in the world of football," Bielsa said of the recent media speculation.

"It's difficult to express yourself over things that didn't happen, that there's nothing behind and that they are expressed as a reality.

"There's things that correspond to the private part of a relationship so perhaps the media talks about these things that are hidden but this is a next step.

"This was the spread of something that didn't happen at all. What I'm saying is, it's a way the press are, the objective is very clear: it's to bring attention with any type of resource.

"The press, not only do they inform, but they have their legitimate need that what they tell wakes up interest and in that process, on occasion it happens that they invent realities to bring attention.

"But I insist this, all this I'm saying there's nobody better than the representatives of the press to explain it. As a result for me to say this doesn't make much sense, in all the countries in the world the sensationalism occupies a part of the press.

"I think in England from my point of view, it's less than elsewhere, normally that's because the material they work with is precious because very few leagues have so much to say about it as something as precious as the Premier League."