Phillips' loyalty to Leeds meant there was 'never any chance' of Man Utd move

·3-min read

Kalvin Phillips says there was "never any chance" he would sign for Manchester United out of loyalty to his former club Leeds United.

The England midfielder instead joined the Red Devils' rivals Manchester City earlier this month in a deal reportedly worth £42million.

Phillips was a man in demand, with United and City's interest said to have been piqued by his impressive performances in England's run to the final of Euro 2020 last year.

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But the cross-Pennine rivalry between Leeds and the red side of Manchester meant a switch to Old Trafford was never an option for Phillips.

"No, there was never any chance of me going there. You know my loyalty to Leeds, my family as well, they're all Leeds fans," Phillips said in quotes reported by several British newspapers.

"I was honoured by United wanting me, such a big team – one of the biggest teams in the world. But no, I had to stay loyal to Leeds and choose to go to the other side of Manchester."

Phillips was asked if his loyal stance was an unusual one in the modern game, to which he replied: "I don't know, it's just the way I am, the way I think and the way I'll always be.

"I want to be loyal to the people who've given me the biggest opportunity in the world. Leeds were the first team to sign me, I made sure that was one of the main things I'd do."

Phillips has gone from being the leading man at Elland Road to part of a star-studded cast at the Etihad Stadium.

At champions City, the likes of Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden are battling for midfield minutes, albeit the latter two can operate further forward, while the likes of Cole Palmer and James McAtee are also aiming to make their mark.

Making the switch may represent somewhat of a gamble, especially given he will want as much game time as possible with the World Cup in Qatar on the horizon.

But for Phillips the opportunity to test himself against the elite is what motivated him to make the move.

"It's a risk and reward thing. I want to come here and prove myself against the best players in the world," Phillips added.

"I know there will be times I'm pulling my hair out because it is so difficult but that is what I wanted. At Leeds I was the guy who needed to play every game, at City that isn't the case. I need to get my head around that."

Phillips has enjoyed a good grounding for his new challenge at City having excelled under the high-octane pressing game employed by former Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa.

He spoke about the differences of working for Guardiola, a man he is excited to play for even if the City boss may only be at the club for one more season.

"At the Euros it was new to me but I did reasonably well," he said. "Everything Marcelo taught me was a lot of movement without the ball, creating space for yourself to get on the ball.

"With City, it is moving into spaces to help team-mates get on the ball or getting in position to turn on the ball and play forward all the time.

"It was the opportunity to be coached by Pep. I couldn't turn it down. Even if Pep's only here for one more year it will hopefully be a good year."

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