Kalvin Phillips is the “main objective” for Manchester City ahead of the summer transfer window, according to reports.
Phillips has been comfortable with the step up to the Premier League with Leeds United this season. Long since touted as someone capable of making that leap in quality, he has helped the Whites consolidate their position back in the top flight. His form has also put him in contention for a place in the England squad for Euro 2020.
As well as improving his international chances, getting a full season of Premier League football under his belt has also put Phillips on the radar of other clubs.
According to Todofichajes, the Leeds midfielder is now a top target for a Man City side looking to increase their midfield options.
Pep Guardiola reportedly wants more competition for Rodri at the heart of his midfield. There may also be concerns about losing Fernandinho when his contract expires in the summer.
Phillips would be an intriguing option to help plug the gap. At 25 years of age, he has many seasons ahead of him.
Leeds are hoping that he will spend a large chunk of those years at Elland Road. He remains under contract until 2024, so the Whites are under no pressure to sell.
Therefore, they have set a minimum price tag of €40m (about £34.5m) if they are to consider letting Phillips go.
But reports elsewhere indicate that they are very much planning for a future with him still at their core.
Earlier this week, Football Insider reported that the Whites want to sign another defensive midfielder to provide more depth behind him.
Director of football Victor Orta has reportedly begun compiling a ‘shortlist’ of players with the pedigree and experience to provide cover and competition.
However, the report did not state any targets who are currently on the club chief’s radar.
What’s more, the report added that Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, despite appearing happy with his alternatives, wants to add more mettle to the position.
Koch could fulfil Phillips role
But one former Leeds player believes the solution to complement Phillips may already be at the club.
Summer signing Robin Koch was brought in as a centre-back but has played in Phillips’ role on occasion – including in the recent loss to Brighton.
“I’ve seen enough from Koch to suggest he could play that role long-term,” ex-Leeds forward Noel Whelan told Football Insider.
“Even though he has only played in that position a couple of times you can see that he has the capabilities to do it. I have no doubt about that.
“He was competitive in midfield against Brighton. He was getting on the ball and trying to find space.
“I felt sorry for him though because it is difficult to gauge whether he can play in that role long-term when everyone else is playing below par.
“I cannot be 100 per cent confident that he can understudy for Phillips on that performance because everyone around him was a six out of 10 and some of them not even that.
“Could Koch step into an international’s role? The signs are encouraging. I think he has all of the attributes.”