Men's Team

Phillips will have an important role to play, says Guardiola

Pep Guardiola says he is in no doubt that Kalvin Phillips will have an important role to play in City’s quest for success this season.

The England midfield international has mainly had to bide his time in terms of accruing match minutes so far since making the summer move to City from Leeds.

A small niggle ruled him out of last weekend’s 4-0 win over Bournemouth, but the 26-year-old is fit again for Sunday’s latest Premier League clash away at Newcastle United.

And, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to St James’ Park, the City manager reiterated how he was sure Phillips will prove his value to the Club over the course of the campaign.

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“We don't have doubts. He is a player for the England national team and has improved incredibly as a player,” Guardiola asserted.

“He was working under (former Leeds boss) Marcelo Bielsa and he is British, which helps the Premier League.

“The last season he had injuries, so we have to be careful right now (with) the little disturbance he had last week and try to avoid it in the future.

“But I am pretty sure he is going to adapt.

“Of course, he has to know some of the things we are doing and, of course, Rodri right now is a step forward in front of him in terms of that position.

“But in September we start playing every three days. We will need him, and he will prove how valuable he is. Of that we have no doubts.

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“He is also an exceptional lad and person. He knew Kyle (Walker), John (Stones), and Phil (Foden) the other English players - and he settled perfectly and so quick.”

Guardiola also revealed how the legendary Bielsa – whom Pep has cited as a huge influence on his own managerial career – first alerted him to Phillips’ qualities when he was establishing himself as a promising player at Leeds.

Phillips thrived under the tutelage of the visionary Argentine coach who guided Leeds back to the Premier League in the summer of 2020 after a 17-year gap.

And Pep revealed how even at that early stage, Bielsa was positive in his belief that Phillips possessed the quality and potential to succeed at the highest level.

“Marcelo spoke about him three or four years ago in the first or second season he was at Leeds,” Guardiola revealed.

“He spoke about him in the Championship, and this was the first time I realised ‘OK, Kalvin Phillips is playing for Leeds.’

“He spoke with me and said he was a guy who is really, really good and maybe one day - not now for Manchester City - but one day he could play in a top team.

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“And after he proved that Marcelo was not wrong again. Promoted to the Premier League, played in the national team and the steps they have done is credit to Kalvin and Leeds.

“After Fernandinho decided to move to Brazil (at the end of last season), we needed a holding midfielder and we thought he was perfect for us.”

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