How Newcastle United sealing deal for £42m midfielder could see England win Euro 2024
The 27-year-old has been linked with a January move in recent days.
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Ring rust; the bane of boxers, artisan jewellers, and now, based on the evidence of his display against Italy on Tuesday evening, Kalvin Phillips too. The midfielder is approximately a fortnight away from having his face plastered across every milk carton in Greater Manchester, but in spite of his enforced exile, Gareth Southgate, with all the tenderness of a kindly supply teacher, continues to persist with him as a key component of his England setup.
For the most part, that lingering faith has been justified; much like fellow domestic pariah Harry Maguire, where Phillips’ club form has dissipated, it has largely sustained itself for the Three Lions. Last night was, however, the first time that Manchester City outcast looked to be properly on the cusp on unravelling. Lacklustre and off-kilter, perhaps the most notable comment you could make on his performance was that he was fortunate not to be sent off. In short, he looked like a player who had barely kicked a football of late, and whose self-belief is sagging and threadbare.
And yet, you can see why Southgate is so willing to stand by him. Especially given Jude Bellingham’s newfound omnipotence, the inclusion of a figure like Phillips bridges the gap between the Real Madrid wunderkind and Declan Rice, allowing both to thrive more readily. At his peak, the City midfielder pulls together the disparate components of his manager’s vision; he is the glue in a matchstick model of the Taj Mahal, Bonehead’s rhythm guitar on Supersonic. When he is good, he allows those around him to be better, and increasingly, England are grappling with the suspicion that the more they can draw from Bellingham’s freakish reserves, the greater their chances of winning next summer’s European Championship.
But as things stand, Phillips is some way off being that presence, and the longer he withers in the shade of Pep Guardiola’s disapproval, the more his vigour seems to wane. A transfer, you feel, is the only viable solution. There’s not exactly a shortage of interest either; recent reports suggest that Bayern Munich have already contacted his representatives, and that a whole host of Premier League clubs - including West Ham, Newcastle United, Everton, and Liverpool - are also tentatively keen.
Plausibly speaking, any one of those destinations could have their advantages and their foibles, but let’s take Newcastle as a hypothetical. Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Sandro Tonali and the Italian FA’s allegations of gambling offences, there is a likelihood that the Magpies may be in dire need of midfield reinforcements sooner rather than later. To that end, Phillips’ profile and pedigree make him an obvious candidate on Tyneside, and it is easy to see how he could be seduced by Eddie Howe’s project.
Champions League football in a city that treats its footballing heroes like demigods is a difficult prospect to snub, and it becomes doubly so when the alternative is wallowing on a bench at the Etihad. And while any such deal could significantly benefit both Newcastle and Phillips, it also has the potential to be a considerable boost for England too.
You see, Phillips needs to reignite his career, and the only way he is going to do that is by playing regular, top flight football. If and when he can get back to that point, then you would imagine that his displays in an England shirt will improve accordingly, and that, as we have already mentioned, can only be a good thing for the Three Lions’ Euro 2024 hopes.