Kalvin Phillips has a decision to make at Man City if Mateo Kovacic and Declan Rice sign

Kalvin Phillips has a decision to make at Man City if Mateo Kovacic and Declan Rice sign

After a challenging first year at Manchester City, Kalvin Phillips might find himself as the fourth choice in defensive midfield for the upcoming season.

The fact that Kalvin Phillips’ most memorable performance during his first season with Manchester City occurred on the stage during the championship parade, when he took the microphone and sang the “Johnny Stones” chant, which included the phrase “f—— hates United,” is telling.

After moving to Manchester at £45 million from Leeds, Phillips would not have expected this to be his first season. He only appeared 21 times, playing an average of 28 minutes each time. His two Premier League starts total came in the three matches following City’s championship.

Phillips struggled with injuries and form and was unable to persuade Pep Guardiola that he was prepared to fill in for Rodri, who was crucial to the treble victory.

After three minutes, he hit the bar against Bristol City, and that’s about it for his football accomplishments for City thus far.

Phillips has said that this season has been challenging, which was made worse by his injury right before the World Cup, and he has pledged to battle for his spot next season. The midfielder may get more playing time as a result of Ilkay Gundogan’s departure, but Mateo Kovacic’s anticipated arrival will put him up against the same competition he had in the first year of his Etihad career.

Even if it hasn’t yet resulted in an offer, the City is also interested in Declan Rice. There is no certainty Rice would end up at City because Arsenal is also interested. However, if he did, Phillips’ options for getting more playing time would be even more limited.

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According to certain rumours, Phillips might be included in any Rice trade with West Ham or she might depart on her own to raise money. It would be unfortunate for a player with such obvious skill to leave after a year, but it might help him restart a career that has somewhat plateaued over the past month.

Phillips ended a discouraging personal campaign last week with his first England goal, but Gareth Southgate has already said the midfielder won’t be given as many opportunities if he doesn’t play next season.

Phillips will be fervently hoping to make England’s Euro 2024 team next summer.

Does he go somewhere else and try again to do that? It’s also possible that Phillips will take a year to fully adjust to Pep Guardiola’s system, as Jack Grealish, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, and other players like them. By keeping the no. 16 as fit and fresh as possible, he would help City if he could provide a viable substitute for Rodri.

There may be further opportunities for Phillips to play next season because he has experience playing in a defensive-midfield partnership for Leeds and England. There is no reason Phillips cannot play alongside Rice and provide a different role in the City midfield, assuming Rice does sign.

“My intention is to stay there,” he said last week. “We have just won the treble, so there is no reason for me to leave, other than if I am not playing I will obviously have to think about it.

“I cannot give it 12 months and say, ‘I am not playing so I am going to leave’. I came to Manchester City to win trophies and we won the trophies, but I didn’t play as much as I wanted to do. I am on the brink of almost getting it. Obviously there is a little bit of work in pre-season and hopefully be all right.”

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So if, as he says, he is willing to make his name at City, he knows it won’t be an easy task. Or if he’s looking at the changes in midfield, does he look at the bigger picture, and backtrack on his end-of-season vow?

He declared last week, “My intention is to stay there.” “Since we just won the treble, there is no reason for me to go, other than the fact that, if I don’t play, I will undoubtedly give it some thought.

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