Kalvin Phillips, a midfielder for Leeds United, is being pursued by Manchester United.
Phillips has impressed since Leeds got promoted to the Premier League in 2020, and United have prioritized a defensive midfielder in the summer market after choosing against buying one last year.
Despite United’s interest in Phillips’ England teammates Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, West Ham have publicly rated Rice at £150 million, while Borussia Dortmund want to keep Bellingham for another year as they prepare to lose Erling Haaland this summer.
Rice is maturing into a box-to-box midfielder, and Bellingham’s inventiveness is impressive, while Phillips has succeeded in a deeper role for Leeds and England.
United’s new coach, Erik ten Hag, would have a veto over any players who have already been shortlisted, but United is said to be moving forward with a deal to sign Phillips.
Phillips also shares interim United boss Ralf Rangnick’s desire for signing eager players looking for a better opportunity.
Ten Hag will take over center midfielders Scott McTominay, Fred, and Nemanja Matic, with James Garner hoping to break into the first team after impressing on loan at Nottingham Forest.
United is aware of how limited their summer transfer options will be if they do not qualify for the Champions League, which would basically derail any big move for Rice or Bellingham. Aston Villa and West Ham have expressed interest in Phillips, but United are confident in their ability to defeat any rivals.
Phillips’ contract with Leeds runs until 2024, and talks about extending it have dragged on. Despite the fact that Phillips is a lifelong Leeds fan, United have signed a number of Leeds players in high-profile deals.
Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen crossed the divide in 1978, Eric Cantona joined United six months after helping Leeds win the English league title in 1992, Rio Ferdinand became United’s record signing in 2002, and Yorkshire-born Alan Smith signed for the club in 2004 despite claiming he would never play for United. Arthur Graham, a winger from Leeds, also joined United in 1983.
Daniel James, who eventually signed to Elland Road on deadline day in August for £25m increasing to £30m, was also discussed between Leeds and United in the previous two summers.
Phillips returned from a four-month layoff due to a hamstring injury in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Southampton, but he only appeared 29 times in the Premier League last season, earning his international debut against Denmark on the eve of the season.
Despite his recent layoff, Phillips started all seven of England’s European Championship matches and is still seen as a key player by coach Gareth Southgate.
Rice, 23, indicated interest in joining United last year, although he has a contract with West Ham that runs until 2024. Bellngham, who was 16 when he visited United’s Carrington training center, decided to join Dortmund in 2020.