Kalvin Phillips: Midfielder establishes himself as the key element of Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United side

We take a look at Kalvin Phillips' season so far
We take a look at Kalvin Phillips' season so far

After a summer of transfer rumour and uncertainty, Kalvin Phillips has put pen to paper on a new Leeds contract which ties him to the club until 2024.

The midfielder has made over 130 appearances since his debut in April 2015, establishing himself not only as a key part of Marcelo Bielsa's side, but also the best defensive midfielder in the Sky Bet Championship.

His new contract sees him earn £20,000 per week, putting him among the top earners at the club. It's a wage increase that reflects his importance to Leeds.

There's no doubting that the Whites are a significantly weaker team without him. His transformation from an advanced player to one at the base of midfield has not only revolutionised his side but also his own personal game.

He's the key cog in Bielsa's tactical system. A player they can rely upon to start the attack while also having the capability to slot into the back line where required.

There's not many players to compare him to in the Championship. It's why Aston Villa chased relentlessly throughout the transfer window; their final offer of £15m deemed well short of Leeds' valuation.

With the 23-year-old continuing to go from strength-to-strength, Tom Carnduff takes a look at his season so far.

How do the stats compare to the rest of the division?

Kalvin Phillips looks to stop Salford's Richie Towell
Kalvin Phillips looks to stop Salford's Richie Towell

In the Championship, 74 midfielders have featured in all six games so far. Phillips finds himself among that number, playing every single minute of Leeds' league and Carabao Cup campaigns.

Using the statistics from these 74 players, we can clearly see the impact made by the Leeds man.

Accurate passes: 86% (8/74)

Often relied upon to link up the defensive line with the forward players, only seven players sit above Phillips when it comes to accurate pass percentage.

A point to note is that Romaine Sawyers is the sole player to have made more passes than Phillips among those seven players. The numbers are fairly significant too; Phillips had made over 100 more passes than Stefan Johansen and Anthony Knockaert.

Accurate long balls: 44 (1/74)

When it comes to long balls, the Leeds midfielder sits top by a distance. His 44 accurate long passes is well clear of Paul Gallagher's 35 in second and Mathias Jensen with 34 in third.

The percentage in that area is also a positive; a top-ten spot with 66% on the tally.

Total duels won: 47 (1/74)

Moving into the defensive stats and it's easy to see why Bielsa trusts him to drop into defence to not only move the ball forward but to also add security at the back.

No midfielder can boast more total duels won than Phillips this season. His dominance in the centre of midfield helps to win possession back for his side and that's a key element in a Bielsa side.

Tenacity is a stand-out trait and it's perfectly suited to the position at the base of midfield - you'd expect him to finish top of this chart in May.

A look at the key stats for Kalvin Phillips this season
A look at the key stats for Kalvin Phillips this season

Tackles: 28 (1/74)

Another statistic that sees Phillips at the top is tackles won. Again, this links to total duels and a desire to win the ball back from the opposition.

Tackling has sometimes been a problematic area with his style attracting the attention of the officials; tackles that are often perceived as dangerous and lead to further punishment.

It can't be denied that it is a strength as opposed to a weakness though. Like duels, it's likely to be an upward trend for tackles with Phillips throughout the course of the campaign.

Interceptions: 8 (6/74)

Not only can he win the ball when the opposition are in possession, but Phillips can read the game and cut out passes before they reach their intended destination.

He has averaged over one interception per game which puts him in the top-six of the Championship. Interceptions is a strong area for Leeds this season, with Ben White in first position for defenders with 25.

Dispossessed: 3 (56/74)

When Phillips has the ball, he often keeps it. The midfielder has been dispossessed, on average, once every two games which sees him in the low part for midfielders.

It's a positive overall but even more so when you consider some of those towards the top play in a similar position to Phillips in their respective teams.

Only two midfielders who have played in all six games have failed to be dispossessed, which shows that it's an area of the game that will inevitably happen.

A future with England?

Kalvin Phillips hands out instructions
Kalvin Phillips hands out instructions

Some would say that a Championship player has no chance of making the England squad - but Mason Mount's inclusion last season proved otherwise.

He had involvement in the squad for the UEFA Nations League games against Spain and Croatia last October, although failed to make it onto the pitch.

It shows that Gareth Southgate will look down a division if it means he can find the right player for a position though and Phillips has already demonstrated that he is a top player at this level.

England currently have Declan Rice, Jordan Henderson and Ross Barkley as their preferred options in the deep areas of midfield, with Harry Winks also an option, but that doesn't completely rule out an England future for Phillips.

The Leeds man is currently 20/1 to make England's Euro 2020 squad which is a big price, but recent history has shown how a Championship player has been involved in a competitive situation.

He's also more fancied than the likes of Lewis Cook, Norwich star Todd Cantwell and Wolves' Morgan Gibbs-White - the latter having current involvement with England at youth level.

England will obviously be hopeful of a fully fit preferred squad when they head to the Euros next summer, and there's no doubt that they will be involved in the finals, but factors do come into play regarding selection.

Fitness is the main one but so too is form and a player heading into a tournament on the back of a poor season won't be beneficial in any capacity.

You could compare England's style under Southgate to Liverpool's under Jurgen Klopp. A heavy pressing system off-the-ball at times places an emphasis on winning back possession as soon as it has been lost.

This would suit Phillips and benefit England. He would be down the pecking order when it came to selection, but there's plenty of positives to be had in including a player who could slot it when needed.


Odds correct at 0930 BST (09/09/19)

Follow Sporting Life on social media - find us on Facebook here or tweet @SportingLifeFC

Related football links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read Football

1

Sporting Life Accumulator

The latest Sporting Life Accumulator involves four teams across the three divisions enhanced to 22/1 by EFL title sponsors Sky Bet.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package2

Saturday's Premier League tips

Mark your card for Saturday's Premier League games with our best bets and score predictions, including those involving Spurs and Man City.

The latest football gossip and transfer rumours3

Paper Talk: Mane mega deal

Ahead of the weekend action, Friday's Paper Talk covers all the day's football gossip, including a new deal for Sadio Mane at Liverpool.

Check out Sporting Life's preview of Southampton v Bournemouth in the Premier League4

Friday night tips: Boufal to bag

Friday's Premier League game comes from St Mary's, where George Pitts expects an overdue goalscorer for hosts Southampton against Bournemouth.

Listen to Sporting Life's Weekend Best Bets Podcast for free tips across a range of sports5

Podcast: Weekend Best Bets

Listen for free to the latest Sporting Life Weekend Best Bets podcast as the team share their tips across racing, football, rugby union and Formula One.

Most Read Football

1

Sporting Life Accumulator

The latest Sporting Life Accumulator involves four teams across the three divisions enhanced to 22/1 by EFL title sponsors Sky Bet.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package2

Saturday's Premier League tips

Mark your card for Saturday's Premier League games with our best bets and score predictions, including those involving Spurs and Man City.

The latest football gossip and transfer rumours3

Paper Talk: Mane mega deal

Ahead of the weekend action, Friday's Paper Talk covers all the day's football gossip, including a new deal for Sadio Mane at Liverpool.

Check out Sporting Life's preview of Southampton v Bournemouth in the Premier League4

Friday night tips: Boufal to bag

Friday's Premier League game comes from St Mary's, where George Pitts expects an overdue goalscorer for hosts Southampton against Bournemouth.

Listen to Sporting Life's Weekend Best Bets Podcast for free tips across a range of sports5

Podcast: Weekend Best Bets

Listen for free to the latest Sporting Life Weekend Best Bets podcast as the team share their tips across racing, football, rugby union and Formula One.

Football Tips

Check out Sporting Life's preview of Southampton v Bournemouth in the Premier League

Friday night tips: Boufal to bag

Friday's Premier League game comes from St Mary's, where George Pitts expects an overdue goalscorer for hosts Southampton against Bournemouth.

Check out the latest Sporting Life Price Boost

Price Boost: Friday double

Sky Bet have enhanced the odds on a double on Friday's Premier League football, exclusively for Sporting Life readers.

Sporting Life Accumulator

The latest Sporting Life Accumulator involves four teams across the three divisions enhanced to 22/1 by EFL title sponsors Sky Bet.