Kalvin Phillips on staying at Leeds United, expectation, his 'crazy' price tag and Marcelo Bielsa's funny way of showing he likes him

Kalvin Phillips knows the expectation in Leeds better than most (Pic: Getty)
Kalvin Phillips knows the expectation in Leeds better than most (Pic: Getty)
Have your say

Kalvin Phillips is quite comfortable carrying the expectation of a city on his 23-year-old shoulders.

The Leeds United midfielder, who attracted what he saw as a ‘crazy’ bid in excess of £20m this summer, penned a five-year contract at Elland Road earlier this week.

Having his future finally sorted and tethered to the club he has supported since childhood was not only a cause for celebration, it allowed him to keep his eye firmly on the ball.

“Obviously I’m happy,” he said.

“Another five years here at my hometown club – it’s something I’ll try and make the most of and hopefully get Leeds back where they belong.

“I’ve always wanted to be here, being from Leeds.

Phillips has been central to Marcelo Bielsa's plans at Elland Road (Pic: Getty)

Phillips has been central to Marcelo Bielsa's plans at Elland Road (Pic: Getty)

“I think my family have always wanted me to stay at this club.

“Everything is done now and I can concentrate on playing football.”

The feeling of belonging Phillips has when wearing Leeds colours could only be bettered by pulling on the white shirt for a Premier League game.

“I’m at a club where everyone loves me, I’m at a club where the manager likes me, my family love the club,” he said.

“I’ve always wanted to play in the Premier League but you have to open your eyes to the bigger picture.

“If I can get Leeds there, that’s the biggest achievement I could possibly do.”

A holiday in America and turning a blind eye to social media helped Phillips switch off from the incessant talk and summer speculation about his future.

A trio of Premier League clubs made bids to prise him from the Whites, but the club rejected them all.

Aston Villa were the highest bidders and their valuation of the defensive midfielder is a lot higher than the one he’d put on himself.

“I think it’s a bit crazy to be honest.

“If I was offering that money for a player, I don’t think I’d offer that much for me. That’s too much.

“But it’s always a compliment. If someone is willing to offer that much money to buy me then I must be doing something right.”

Keeping Phillips was a major boost to head coach Marcelo Bielsa and his 2019/20 Championship promotion bid.

The Argentine head coach spoke on Thursday about the Thorp Arch academy product’s importance to the team.

He obviously likes Phillips, even if he has a funny way of showing it.

“It’s hard to tell really,” said the player.

“I don’t think he’s got favourites, but with the people he likes he kind of has to push them more.

“He always has a go at me in training, to do something, or he’ll always be shouting my name and making sure I’m doing the right things.

“I think he shows it in that way instead of obviously saying he likes me.”

With Bielsa on his bucket in the technical area and Phillips sitting in front of the defence, Leeds are well placed for another attempt to climb out of the Championship.

There is no other expectation this season and Phillips, as a Leeds boy, knows it more than most.

But he can handle it.

“I don’t think it’s felt too much, I don’t think I’d be here if I felt it was too much,” he said.

“I thought I carried it quite well last year.

“Obviously disappointing towards the end but I think it sets us up to do even better this year.

“We’ll be very disappointed if we don’t, but if we do, this is a win situation for me, it’s a club I’ve loved, my hometown club so it’s the best thing I could possibly achieve.”