It became clear last night that Manchester City tried and succeeded in its attempts to crown Calvin Philip, succeeding Fernandinho for next season.
The £42m deal (plus £3m in add-ons) makes sense for many reasons, with Phillips showing his Premier League pedigree for two years with Leeds, despite some injury issues, while also establishing himself as a regular in England. Pep Guardiola loves working with English players, as well as those who have already admired him in the first division, and City have the money to invest them given the deal fees they got from Erling Haaland.
The reason Phillips chose to move to City may be somewhat less clear, particularly to those from Leeds. Obviously, a move to a bigger club, the Premier League champions no less, has great appeal; Kyle Walker, Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez and others have taken similar trips and now have the winners’ medals to back their decision.
Also read: Man City agree to transfer fee for Calvin Phillips from Leeds
However, it is fair to wonder how much time Phillips will have in the game, given that Rodri has been superior this season and has barely been injured. The Leeds midfielder is almost certain to improve City if he moves, but there have been doubts raised by those who have commented on a potential deal as to whether it would be the best thing for the player.
Phillips’ answer is that he stares into the faces of the City team, especially the form of Bernardo Silva. For the second season of his career with City (2018/19 was the first occasion), Bernardo worked effectively in the scenario that Guardiola had to choose in the team. Regardless of the position – turn number 8, number 6, as a wide striker or a false nine – the Portugal international’s performance was so high that the coach felt he could not dismiss him; Whoever played, it was Bernardo plus 10.
Joao Cancelo also played a tremendous amount of football last season, the most in the squad, filling his natural position as right back when Walker was not available and occupying the left back position on every other occasion.
Rodri didn’t start the season miles ahead of Fernandinho – the veteran replaced him in the later stages of the 2020/21 season, leading to the infamous selection in the Champions League final against Chelsea – but his performance during the campaign soon meant that he was out of date. The expectations are that he will continue to shine, but Phillips must know that nothing is certain in football.
This is the mindset that Guardiola demands from everyone in his squad and all new deals: they need to feel satisfied enough to start every game before their teammates, and ready to do so when asked. If you have an inferiority complex about your place on the team or feel frustrated whenever you are not selected, the city is not for you; They even teach this lesson to under-18s now.
Phillips will have to accept that a move to the Etihad would mean he won’t play as much as he did at Leeds, but if he has the ambitions the Blues think he’s doing – they wouldn’t sign him otherwise – then he must. Don’t be an obstacle when this step happens.