Newcastle United have reportedly joined the race to sign Liverpool defender Nathaniel Phillips during the summer transfer window.
The 24-year-old spent three years in the Reds academy after moving to Anfield from Bolton in 2016. With little prospect of any first-team action, he was loaned to German club Stuttgart for the 2019-20 campaign. But he was recalled to Merseyside in late December 2019 due to an injury crisis in Jurgen Klopp’s rearguard.
The Bolton-born stopper made his senior debut in a 1-0 FA Cup third-round victory over Everton in January 2020. Liverpool then loaned him back to Stuttgart for the remainder of that season.
He racked up 19 appearances in Bundesliga 2, including 16 starts and impressed all at the club. Back with the Reds, Phillips looked set to spend last season in the reserves.
With 15 Premier League starts among 17 appearances, Phillips enhanced his reputation. He earned glowing praise for Klopp.
Back in May, the German said of Phillips and fellow young defender Rhys Williams.
“These two boys, playing like that, it is incredible, absolutely incredible,” he enthused. “That was a proper crash course in a Premier League education, and they have learned so much.
“It’s a sign for all our kids at Liverpool in the academy. It’s possible – it shows it’s possible… just work hard.”
Multiple clubs eye Phillips swoop
With Ibrahima Konate now in the ranks and the injured stars being eased back into action, Phillips may struggle to see much action. He has recently been linked with a move to Brighton.
Burnley, Southampton and Bayer Leverkusen are also thought to be keen for a player Klopp does not want to lose. However, Liverpool have said they will give their blessing to his exit if they receive an offer in the region of £12-15m.
Steve Bruce is looking to improve his defence but, as ever, is working off a tight budget. Although Philllips’ price tag is relatively small in the current market, it may still be out of the Tynesiders’ reach.