Leeds United had been completely without any success before they finally earned promotion back to the Premier League after a 16-year absence.
The Whites had struggled in the Championship and League One during that period, yet it was in 2020 when Marcelo Bielsa’s plucky outfit cemented themselves into the club’s history with their exploits.
That promotion campaign was subsequently followed up with the most remarkable of return seasons too, as the bulk of that squad retained their spots and proved their worth at the top level.
Should Leeds have sold Kalvin Phillips?
At the heart of their success were Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips, who proved themselves more than worthy of the level despite the scrutiny they had come under.
The former was questioned as to whether he could score the goals to keep them up, whilst many showed contempt with the latter’s inclusion in the England squad despite being in the Championship.
Both of these mindsets were shattered in scintillating fashion, however their fairytale has turned into more of a nightmare in recent seasons. This culminated in Phillips’ exit last summer.
Why did Kalvin Phillips leave Leeds?
Last season had been a taxing one for the club, who bid farewell to Bielsa and welcomed Jesse Marsch in his place. The American had the unenviable task of keeping a threadbare squad afloat, with their midfield maestro struggling to retain fitness when they needed him most.
He had quickly become unreliable, and the £42m that Manchester City were offering became a sum they could not refuse.
However, the 27-year-old gave his own reasons for making the move from his boyhood club, as he claimed: “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.”
Despite his undeniable quality, things have been tough for the Yorkshire-born ace who has suffered once again with ailments whilst trying to break into a team laden with quality.
This culminated in Pep Guardiola’s damning assessment of his fitness after the World Cup, where the Spaniard branded the former Leeds star “overweight“. Whilst Paul Robinson suggested he had suffered an “unlucky” season, it seems the lack of football had caught up with him.
The £150k-per-week machine has just five Premier League appearances to his name yet has only been handed two starts all season, in the cup competitions. He is averaging just 0.6 tackles and 0.2 key passes per game, earning a rating of 6.63. It is a far cry from the midfield dynamo who earned a 7.21 average rating, recording 1.2 key passes and 2.6 tackles per 90 in the 2020/21 season, via Sofascore
These performances even led writer Ben Amos to suggest that he would remain a “legend” at the club whether he left or not.
It seems that despite the initial reluctance to sell such a revered player and given how the trajectory of his career has nosedived since, it actually marked the perfect time to let go.
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