Kalvin Phillips has enjoyed a season just as good as Leeds United have as a whole and following Saturday’s stunning 4-0 away win over Burnley, the England midfielder was included in Garth Crooks’ BBC Sport Team of the Week – and Crooks made the strange decision to compare him to Liverpool captain and England teammate Jordan Henderson.
Phillips, 25, has been in stunning form this season. Having played 29 times this season, the midfielder has enjoyed his best campaign yet – becoming a regular in the England side and indeed, a shoe-in to feature at this summer’s European Championships. It comes after many were suggesting Leeds should cash in on their academy product, before the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa – who changed him into a defensive midfielder.
With England taking on Croatia in the coming weeks in what is their first group game, Phillips will be vying with the likes of Henderson, Declan Rice and perhaps – Mason Mount – for a place in midfield. Crooks, though, compared Henderson and Phillips, after likening the £30,000-a-week (Mirror) Leeds star to Manchester United legend Bryan Robson beforehand. There are surely, though, differences between all three.
“The player at the heart of some glorious football for Leeds was Kalvin Phillips. A beautiful striker of the ball, always looking to play forward and totally unselfish,” Crooks said. “I’ve likened his game to that of Manchester United legend Bryan Robson, which might have been a stretch, but he’s definitely a Jordan Henderson. If Phillips goes on to have the career either of those players have had, he will have done extremely well.”
Is Phillips really that similar to Henderson? The similarities they share include the immaculate array of passing – which Phillips showed with his gorgeous ping to Jack Harrison for the fourth goal on Saturday, Rodrigo’s second. The leadership, the feeling of a favourite among fans, the work rate, the position. But while Henderson is quicker and probably more mobile, Phillips is stronger. There are similarities, but there are differences, too.