Kalvin Phillips is reported to have rejected an approach from Jose Mourinho over a summer move to Tottenham and has underlined his loyalty to Leeds in the process.
Phillips has played a massive part in helping the Whites move top of the Championship this season and has become a regular for his hometown club under instrumental coach Marcelo Bielsa, catching the eye of many suitors – including England manager Gareth Southgate.
And after Aston Villa saw an approach in the region of £25m rejected last summer, the midfielder was rewarded with a new five-year deal.
Since then, interest in Phillips has grown steadily with Wolves, Burnley, Tottenham and Sheffield United also among his suitors.
However, he has also been mentioned as a target for old rivals Manchester United, who are again expected to spend heavily this summer and who were on Monday morning tipped to sign both Saul Niguez and Jadon Sancho.
And amid claims Tottenham boss Mourinho had made the Leeds star a priority signing this summer, the midfielder told FourFourTwo magazine: “I want to spend my career at Leeds and see the club doing well in the Premier League.
“I’m just enjoying every minute right now.”
Leeds are a point clear of second-placed West Brom and seven points ahead of Fulham in third with nine matches to be played and Phillips is keen to avoid the heartache of last season’s play-off misery to Derby.
Phillips said: “We’ve massively improved in this campaign, we’re a lot more experienced.
“We went through a bad patch at the wrong time last season and then lost in the play-offs. It was tough but it has helped us.”
Phillips on being converted to a defensive midfielder
Phillips has developed into one of the outstanding talents outside the Premier League, having been converted into a holding midfielder by Marcelo Bielsa. And his status in the game is rewarded by featuring highly in the magazine’s annual ‘Football League Top 50’ list, which is available to buy on Wednesday.
Speaking about his shift from an attacking midfielder, under former boss Thomas Christiansen, to a holding one under Bielsa, Phillips added: “I was surprised at first. The season before he arrived, I’d scored seven goals, so I was a bit confused and disappointed when he spoke to me. I could hardly say no, though, could I? Especially given his track record of improving players.
“He saw something in me and offered to teach me how to play a different role.
“I’ve adapted well, although he’s never completely satisfied! He’s always saying I can improve.
“That can be frustrating when you think you’ve played well but those are the standards he sets.
“We’re probably the fittest team in the league — that’s important to him. He’s on our case all the time, checking weight and conditioning and demanding we always give absolutely everything in training.
“Honestly, if someone from outside came in and saw what he had us doing for pre-season, they’d think he was crazy. But we’re in a strong position because of it.
“Leeds brought him in to coach the club but he has had a big effect on the whole city. He wants to do Leeds proud.”
The midfielder has also been tipped for England honours and he admits he is trying not to get ahead of himself.
“All I can do is stay fit and carry on doing what I’m doing,” he continued.
“I know the bar is incredibly high for international footballers but I feel like I’m on the border of that.
“Once Leeds have become an established Premier League side again, I’ll be competing with the best.
“Hopefully I can do well enough to convince Gareth Southgate that I deserve a spot in his squad.”