The intriguing West Ham and Man City summer swap transfer that would work terrifically for both clubs
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Ring rust is no joke. It has been a rickety start to life in East London for Kalvin Phillips, the West Ham loanee who is seemingly being delivered in instalments, with his composure hopefully arriving any day now. Two appearances in the famous claret and blue have provided a concerning number of harum-scarum moments, and at present, Hammers everywhere must be wondering how on earth this random bloke from Yorkshire has been mentioned so frequently in the same breath as former idol Declan Rice for so long.
You can't keep a good player down, though, and once the cobwebs have been blown away, you would like to think that Phillips will begin to show the kind of pedigree that convinced parent club Manchester City to prise him away from boyhood side Leeds United in the first place. A gifted reader of the game who boasts a peerless range of distribution, on his day, Phillips can mix it with the very best. It just hasn't been his day all that often of late.
Even now, as I write this, it is unclear as to what the future holds for the midfielder. Sure, he will remain at the London Stadium until the end of the current campaign, but beyond that, things become hazy. The overwhelming likelihood is that he will be sold by City in the summer, with his brief stint in Manchester certainly set to go down as that rarest of phenomena - a failed Pep Guardiola experiment. But where he settles next is anybody's guess.
At the very least, however, West Ham will probably be in the conversation somehow. Assuming that Phillips drops his new born giraffe gimmick soon, you suspect that the Irons will consider making his transfer permanent. The likes of Newcastle United and Juventus have also been linked in the recent past, of course, but it remains to be seen whether either would be interested in reigniting their interest at the end of the season.
Regardless, if West Ham do indeed decide that they want to make Phillips theirs, there is perhaps a way that they could do so on the cheap. It is no great secret that Man City are admirers of the talismanic Lucas Paqueta. The Brazilian has regularly been touted as a prospective target for the champions, and it is easy to see why; technically astute and wonderfully poised with a visionary flair for precise mayhem, he is, in many respects, an archetypal Guardiola player.
And the problem West Ham have is that, generally speaking, whoever Guardiola wants, Guardiola gets - especially when it comes to cherry-picking the best talents from those Premier League clubs who happen to lie outside of the top six. It happened with Jack Grealish and Aston Villa. It happened with Matheus Nunes and Wolves. Hell, it even happened with Phillips and Leeds United.
In other words, if City do decide to direct their glittering tractor beam towards Paqueta once more, it is surely only a matter of time before the Hammers' resolve crumbles. But why not, in that specific scenario, get a little something extra out of any potential agreement to sweeten the deal?
No sane West Ham fan would want Paqueta to leave the club any time soon, but if he is to go, where is the harm in securing Phillips' long-term future in East London as part of a player-plus-cash package? That way, City get their man, but the Irons are also left clutching a decent asset, as well as a tidy lump sum to reinvest in attacking areas.
It might not be perfect - and it will depend largely on Phillips rediscovering his best form - but it surely has to be better than nothing...