Liverpool outcast gets transfer boost as new contract signed ahead of preseason

Nat Phillips has been desperate for first-team football after years of being unsettled.
-Credit: (Image: 2024 Liverpool FC)

Liverpool defender Nat Phillips may finally leave the club this summer with Cardiff City keen to sign the 27-year-old following a successful loan spell.

Phillips spent the second half of the 2023-24 season in the Championship with Cardiff, and head coach Erol Bulut admitted that if he remained at the club he would push to make his loan move permanent. Bulut was handed a two-year extension on June 4, and now Liverpool is expecting Cardiff to make a formal offer.

"If I’m the coach here again next season, I don’t know, but I would like to see him again here," Bulut said to BBC Radio Wales in April before agreeing to an extension. "Nat came in January and settled in really well. He’s one of the leaders in defense."

Not only does Bulut want to reunite with Phillips next season, but the Liverpool defender is open to returning after finally enjoying regular soccer. "There’s a lot of change going on at Liverpool so there’s a lot up in the air there," Phillips said during a press conference in April.

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"They’ve got a lot to sort out themselves. I’d certainly consider (returning to Cardiff). I’ve enjoyed my time here, I’ve enjoyed playing regularly. I want to continue playing regular football and enjoying my football.

"Any time you move clubs, a lot is up in the air. I’ve done it a few times with loans, so I would say I’m more accustomed to it than some people are. I know how to do it. I know Cardiff now and I’ve done that."

Liverpool is seeking around $10 million for the defender, with newly-promoted Premier League team Ipswich Town also showing interest. Cardiff doesn't want to let Phillips go, but it hasn't spent over $7 million on a player since 2019 so unless Liverpool lowers its valuation the deal could be off.

Phillips enjoyed his time with Cardiff last season and became a leader in defense.
Phillips enjoyed his time with Cardiff last season and became a leader in defense. -Credit:2024 Getty Images

Phillips was born and bred in Bolton, England, and joined the Bolton Wanderers academy as a young prospect. He left the youth setup in 2016 and was in the process of moving to the United States after accepting a scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

However, just two days before his flight was scheduled Liverpool offered him a place in its academy and Phillips opted to stay in England. Phillips has been with Liverpool ever since, although only made 19 appearances in the Premier League since 2019, spending the majority of his time on loan to other clubs.

Phillips has spent time on loan at German team Stuttgart, and in the UK with Bournemouth, Celtic, and Cardiff. Liverpool fans will always respect Phillips as he proved his worth during an injury-ridden 2020-21 season, which saw all first-choice defenders sidelined.

The defender formed a makeshift partnership with Rhys Williams, 23, another prospect who has spent the majority of his career on loan. They helped Liverpool qualify for the Champions League that season.