Kalvin Phillips reveals cold, hard truth on Man Utd interest as star explains Leeds departure
Kalvin Phillips has come clean on Manchester United’s interest in him this summer – and has explained why signing for them was ‘never an option’.
The England star ended months of speculation this summer by agreeing a move away from hometown club Leeds. Finding himself a man in demand, it perhaps came as a surprise when Phillips left for Manchester City. And while the destination was not a surprise, the transfer fee of just £42m perhaps was.
As part of the deal, the fee will rise to £45m including bonuses. Leeds also secured the signing of highly-rated teenager Darko Gyabi, who moved in the opposite direction in a £5m deal.
Ultimately, though, Phillips only had eyes for City and the lack of an auction for the player made his move plain sailing for Txiki Begiristain.
They quickly agreed a fee with Leeds, with the player penning an emotional farewell to his boyhood team.
Phillips is currently preparing for the new season with City with the club on tour in Houston, Texas.
And speaking there about the move, he insists his loyalty to Leeds meant there was never a chance he could sign for the Red Devils.
“No, there was never any chance of me going there. You know my loyalty to Leeds, my family as well, they’re all Leeds fans.
“I was honoured by United wanting me, such a big team – one of the biggest teams in the world. But no, I had to stay loyal to Leeds and choose to go to the other side of Manchester.”
Kalvin Phillips explains appeal of playing for Pep Guardiola
Phillips’ stance is perhaps a rare thing in the modern game. But having made 235 appearances over eight seasons at Leeds United, he insists he is comfortable with his decision.
“I don’t know, it’s just the way I am, the way I think and the way I’ll always be,” he said of snubbing Man Utd out of loyaly to Leeds.
“I want to be loyal to the people who’ve given me the biggest opportunity in the world. Leeds were the first team to sign me, I made sure that was one of the main things I’d do.”
Phillips is the third arrival of the summer for City, following Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland.
And he admits the sway of Pep Guardiola had a huge impact on his decision.
“It was the opportunity to be coached by Pep even if it’s just for a year or hopefully longer,” Phillips added.
“I know he’s a great manager and he’ll elevate my game to a level I want to be at, and be involved in teams fighting for trophies.
“Also just be around players that make you a better player every single day. The opportunity I was given was one I couldn’t turn down.”
City was the only move Leeds fans could accept
While some supporters were disappointed at Phillips’ decision to leave, the majority of fans certainly understand his position.
He rejected the chance to leave Leeds in 2019 upon their play-off failure under Marcelo Bielsa. At the time, Aston Villa came calling with advice from his much-missed Granny Val convincing him to stay.
And his decision was rewarded as a year later Leeds did secure their promotion with Kalvin Phillips earning his first of 23 England caps.
Of all the clubs he could have signed for, a move to City is also perhaps the most palatable for Leeds.
A move to the red side of Manchester would have tarnished his legacy for good. A move to Liverpool would not have gone down well either. And transfers to one of Newcastle, West Ham or Villa would have also been questioned.
But in moving to Manchester City he joins a club that most Leeds fans don’t have a gripe with.
Furthermore, with two years left on his deal, it was the optimum time to move on for all parties.
Meanwhile, Man Utd’s chances of signing Frenkie de Jong have suffered another serious setback with the player telling the club some home truths.