Former Leeds’ academy and first-team boss, and now coach of Newcastle U23 side, Neil Redfearn has showered praise on midfielder Kalvin Phillips.
Redfearn gave Phillips his Leeds debut away at Wolves in 2015. Phillips was one of the brightest young prospects at Leeds academy at that time, and Redfearn didn’t hesitate to throw him into the match as a part of experimentation with his squad.
The Newcastle coach has showered heaps of praise on the 23-year-old midfielder saying he was always blessed with wonderful technique and had a brilliant passing range.
“He was always an athlete,” says Redfearn to the Athletic. “He had this languid style about him but we used to make the academy lads deal with possession in tight situations and he never struggled with it.
“He was clever at getting himself out of trouble, which you’ve seen under Bielsa, and his range of passing was unbelievable. He’d hit the ball with no backlift, as clean as you like. The sort of technique, you can’t teach. His attitude was good for the players around him. Don’t get me wrong, it helped him to be part of a very good group but I looked at him as the glue.”
Phillips is a versatile midfielder, but he excelled under Marcelo Bielsa in the holding midfield role. The Argentine has often used him as a central defender as well.
The homegrown Leeds midfielder has progressed in leaps and bounds under Bielsa who simply transformed him into a top-quality midfielder in the Championship.
Arguably, he is one of the finest midfielders in the Championship and attracted big-money offers from Premier League clubs this summer.
Phillips is absolutely vital for Leeds if they are to win promotion to the Premier League this season. According to the latest report, the midfielder is also close to signing a new contract extension with Leeds.