Kalvin Phillips couldn’t resist Man City, Pep Guardiola, and the Champions League, but his dream transfer may turn into a nightmare

KALVIN Phillips was never going to let Manchester City, Pep Guardiola and Erling Holland down.

But with the World Cup less than five months away, the midfielder’s imminent £45million move from Leeds is not without risk.

Leaving his boyhood club will be a difficult decision for Phillips.

Then again, it would have been easier if Aston Villa tried to sign him in 2019.

Phillips’ late nan, Grenville, persuaded him to stay at Leeds under Marcelo Bielsa.

He has since won promotion, taken to Prem like a duck to water and played a key role in England’s run to the Euro finals last summer.

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The Whites were apparently reluctant to sell their beloved ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’.

But at 26, with two years left on his contract, his stock is unlikely to ever rise that high again – even if £45m feels on the low side.

And when Pep’s City juggernaut comes knocking, offering a huge pay rise and asking you to swap fighting survival to fight for the domestic and European titles, you say no.

Supporters may be hurt to see Phillips swap Leeds and Yorkshire for Manchester and Lancashire.

But at least he can console himself that, despite all that, he didn’t join arch-rivals Man United.

Phillips’ Elland Road legacy is secure, so can he now forge a new one at the Etihad?

It’s not easy to go from local hero to small fish in a big pond – just ask Jack Gersh.

With top dog Rodri ahead of him for a defensive midfield role in Pep’s 4-3-3, Phillips is right in the rank and file.

There are 16 pre-season games before the World Cup, and Gareth Southgate will be watching closely.

Despite being named the Three Lions Player of the Year as England come so close to Euro glory, his inclusion is not a foregone conclusion.

The injury sidelined Phillips for four months toward the end of last season.

He returned to help Leeds survive on the last day before departing on international duty, where he came under fire after an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at home to Hungary.

So the pressure is on to convince the England boss he can still partner Declan Rice in midfield.

A Champions League appearance will only help Phillips’ cause.

Kalvin Phillips couldn't resist Man City, Pep Guardiola, and the Champions League, but his dream transfer may turn into a nightmare

Yet at the same time, warming the bench with the flashes of Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson and James Ward could prove disastrous.

Phillips – signed after Fernandinho’s departure – showed during the Euros that he can work higher up the pitch alongside Rice.

If Guardiola goes down that route, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva – if he stays – and Alke Gundogan lie in wait.

That Phillips was groomed by Bielsa will only add to his appeal as a City manager.

A protective shield that would sit in the quarterback position and initiate attacks, none were more important as Leeds finally got it back big time before claiming to close out the half.

Guardiola is a huge admirer of Bielsa, so Phillips playing in a possession-oriented, attacking side should mean City are not a culture shock.

But a World Cup is looming and Phillips faces an uphill battle to get enough minutes in the bank and secure his England role.


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