Forgotten £42m Man City star’s transfer decision is totally obvious amid Newcastle United and Everton links

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The midfielder has dropped out of favour at the Etihad in recent times.

There have been distracted toddlers who have seized bunches of plastic housekeys with more conviction than the manner in which Kalvin Phillips seized upon his ‘big opportunity’ to revitalise an ailing Manchester City career. The England international (and for how much longer will he still be one of those if his current hiatus from meaningful first team action continues?) was supposed to be the major benefactor of Rodri’s recent attempt to remove Morgan Gibbs-White’s oesophagus with his bare hands, but instead, all the Spaniard’s absence has served to do is reiterate just how bleak Phillips’ predicament is at the Etihad.

It has now been a little under three weeks since Rodri was sent off for violent conduct against Nottingham Forest. In the period since, City have played four matches in all competitions, losing all but one. The exception to this dirge came in the Champions League when, unsurprisingly, their number 16 was permitted to feature.

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Telling (and foreboding) for Phillips, however, was the fact that across the 270 minutes in which Rodri was absent, the former Leeds United talisman was on the field for less than half of that time. A full whistle-to-whistle outing in the Carabao Cup defeat to Newcastle United was followed by a 25 minute cameo in the Premier League upset against Wolves, and on Sunday afternoon, in City’s biggest domestic outing of the campaign so far against Arsenal at the Emirates, Pep Guardiola snubbed Phillips entirely in favour of precocious teenager Rico Lewis. The road back to relevancy appears so long that an alternative route might well be required.

Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips. The England international has been linked with a potential transfer to Newcastle United or Everton in recent daysManchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips. The England international has been linked with a potential transfer to Newcastle United or Everton in recent days
Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips. The England international has been linked with a potential transfer to Newcastle United or Everton in recent days | Getty Images

Which brings us to the smattering of transfer speculation that has emerged in recent days. According to the Independent, Phillips is a target for both Newcastle United and Everton, which, in a footballing sense, is presumably akin to choosing between having your hair cut by Vidal Sassoon or Sweeney Todd. Elsewhere, West Ham are named among a glut of other potential suitors, alongside the august company of Liverpool and a ‘tentative’ Bayern Munich.

The most damning excerpt, however, suggests that not only are City willing to jettison their asset, but they would have been quite happy to cut their losses as immediately as the summer transfer window. Evidently, Guardiola does not believe that Phillips has what it takes to make it in Manchester, and rarely are his assessments of such matters misguided. If the midfielder were, say, an ironing board cover, and not a human being valued at around £42 million, this is exactly the point at which Pep would be digging around in some kitchen drawer or other looking for a receipt.

In a sense, it is admirable that Phillips took the decision to stay and fight for his chance at City, even in spite of such an anonymous debut campaign. But at this stage, the writing is very much on the wall. If Rodri’s sabbatical has taught us anything, it’s that his English counterpart is even further down the pecking order than we initially realised.

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Ordinarily, this is the point in an article like this at which I would make some bold proclamation about where Phillips’ next destination should be; ‘the 27-year-old would be an ideal fit for the Magpies because...’, or ‘the Leeds native is exactly the kind of player the Toffees are crying out for...’, and so on and so forth. But in this instance, I think the most pressing thing is not where Phillips goes, but rather that he does go somewhere.

Whether it’s Newcastle, Everton, West Ham, or a hitherto unconsidered club entirely, wherever the midfielder ends up in January, he just has to make sure it isn’t the bench at the Etihad.

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