Leeds United supporters were treated to Kalvin Phillips on the world stage this summer, as England’s run to the final of the European Championship saw the Leeds man play a starring role.
Manchester City’s John Stones was the solitary outfielder to play more minutes for England at EURO 2020 than Kalvin Phillips, who became somewhat indispensable to Gareth Southgate throughout the tournament.
Playing as part of a midfield two, often termed a double pivot, Phillips partnered West Ham United’s Declan Rice in England’s engine room.
The pair started each match, building upon an already solid foundation and mutual understanding of their respective roles.
Regular Elland Road attendees will have been somewhat surprised to see Phillips deployed slightly further forward than he is typically seen in a Leeds shirt.
Southgate’s England blueprint saw Rice as the deepest midfield more often than not, with Phillips athletic capabilities put to good use in a more hybrid role.
The Leeds man flitted between a No. 6 and No. 8 – perhaps best exemplified by his assist in England’s opening game of the tournament against Croatia.
Surging forward, the midfielder latched onto Kyle Walker’s pass, before threading in Raheem Sterling on the edge of the Croatians’ penalty area.
While Phillips’ creative ability is no secret, this type of work at Leeds often comes in the form of longer-range passing.
Understandably, this raised questions: will Kalvin Phillips be utilised in such fashion at Leeds United?
The answer is most likely to be no, courtesy of a recent Marcelo Bielsa interview.
Speaking to Stadium Astro’s Adam Carruthers, Bielsa seemed quick to rebuff the idea that Phillips could be utilised in a more advanced midfield role, as was the case prior to the Argentine’s arrival.
“If you watch the European Championships where he was a player who stood out,” Bielsa says.
“You will realise that what he did playing for England was not the same as he does for Leeds. So we have to value what he is and not what I was able to do to help him.”
Bielsa has hardly been reluctant when revealing which of his players can play elsewhere.
Robin Koch has received the 66-year-old’s backing numerous times, with regards to deputising in defensive midfield, meanwhile Stuart Dallas’ role as Swiss army knife indicates Bielsa is no stranger to using individuals who are pliable to different setups and formations.
The discernment between his Leeds role, and that which he played under Southgate this summer, is a curious one – and suggests Bielsa has little intention to deploy a Rice-like player alongside Phillips in what would be a surprising tactical shift going forward.