Manchester City have announced the signing of Kalvin Phillips from Leeds United in a deal reportedly worth £42 million plus an additional £3 million in bonuses; the defensive midfielder has signed a contract with the Premier League champions until the summer of 2028.
Phillips will wear the number 4 shirt at the Etihad Stadium.
Following the departure of club legend Fernandinho, the powers that be at the City Football Academy were tasked with bringing in a replacement for the captain, and as first reported by Jack Gaughan of the Daily Mail last month, the man identified to fill the void was Phillips, who they have now secured on a six-year deal.
Having come through the ranks at Leeds, the midfielder quickly became a fan favourite and was instrumental to the success enjoyed by the club under Marcelo Bielsa in the Championship and their return season to the Premier League.
The 26-year-old established himself as a regular within the England starting eleven and was named the Three Lions' Men's Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season after a stellar showing at the European Championships last summer.
Having spent a large chunk of the previous campaign suffering from a hamstring injury, Leeds struggled to cope without their star man, only compounded by striker Patrick Bamford also suffering from various injuries.
The club survived Premier League relegation on the final day of the season, avoiding a reportedly inexpensive relegation release clause in Phillips' contract becoming active. Despite that, the feeling remained that the time had come for him to move on from Leeds after 233 senior appearances.
However, as per a report from Mike Keegan in the Daily Mail, amid interest from other Premier League sides and Paris Saint-Germain, the player would only entertain a move to City from his boyhood club.
Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano would corroborate this information, reporting that clubs had offered “way better” proposals to Leeds for the player, but that Jesse Marsch's side had to accept the City offer because the player had made clear to all relevant parties, including other suitors that he only wanted to play for the Blues and Pep Guardiola.
Speaking to the club website, Phillips expressed his delight at joining the reigning champions:
"I am absolutely delighted to have joined Manchester City. City have again proved to be the best team in the country with an amazing squad and a manager in Pep Guardiola who is rightly considered to be the finest in the world. City are a world-class club with world-class staff and facilities and it’s a dream come true to have joined the club. Now I can’t wait to get started and to look to try and help the team to go on and achieve more success."
Phillips also spoke of his excitement at the prospect of working with Guardiola:
"To be able to play under Pep and learn from him and his coaching staff as well as be part of such a fantastic squad is a prospect that I am incredibly excited about."
On his desire to continue learning, Phillips said:
"It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to come to City, to improve my game in loads of different ways. It’s hard for me to say right now how I’m going to play a role in the team because it’s very difficult to come into a team of eighteen superstars. I’m looking forward to just getting to know the boys and getting my feet firmly on the ground and work from there."
"I did play in the Euros final and to be honest the nerves didn’t really hit me when I was playing it, it was more after that how big the game was. I deal very well with situations like that, I think I’m pretty suited to playing big games. I’ve not experienced many of them but hopefully this season I will do."
On the number four shirt:
"It was a number that was presented to me, and I thought because at Leeds I had 23 which is one of my favourite numbers, I felt like because it’s a new start I wanted a different number and to try and build a legacy on that number. Hopefully, I can."
On the signing, Director of Football Txiki Begiristain said:
"Kalvin is a player that we have long admired, and at both domestic and international level, he has proved his fantastic ability and quality over the past few seasons. His reading of the game, alongside his passing ability, energy and drive make him a formidable talent and he is a player who has a fantastic will to win. We feel he will be a superb addition to our squad and that he will complement our game perfectly. Everyone here is looking forward to watching Kalvin play and develop even further over the next few years."
The signing fills a huge void within the squad following the departure of Fernandinho – and provides Guardiola with new options at the base of midfield, given the two varying defensive midfield profiles he now possesses with Rodri and Phillips, with the former more of a pass master/controller and the latter more explosive.
Importantly, the signing allows for the appropriate and sufficient management of the Spaniard's minutes as well as paving the way for a more dynamic double-pivot solution to that of an ageing Fernandinho paired with Rodri.
Phillips represents a very shrewd buy from City at a very modest price in the current market.
Written by: @NA1907_
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