Manchester United v Everton: Match in pictures
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Manchester United’s quest to complete Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dream XI with a new defensive midfielder have taken a blow as Leeds are set to hand Kalvin Phillips a new contract, according to reports.
The Red Devils spent over £120million on a blockbuster summer transfer window to help Solskjaer topple the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.
United came second last season but were 12 points behind rivals City, who won their third top-flight title in four years.
The Old Trafford transfer hierarchy responded by plugging two of the biggest gaps in Solskjaer’s squad.
A two-year saga was ended when Jadon Sancho arrived from Borussia Dortmund for £73m, before Raphael Varane was acquired to partner Harry Maguire at centre-back.
Cristiano Ronaldo then returned to the club in an incredible move from Juventus.
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But United faced criticism for not solving another key problem in their team. Many fans and pundits felt that Solskjaer needed to sign an elite defensive midfielder to compete with City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Declan Rice was reportedly a target but he was priced out of a transfer by West Ham. The Hammers reportedly value the England star at around £100m.
United have since moved on to Rice’s Three Lions midfield partner Phillips, whose reputation has sky-rocketed following his performances at Euro 2020.
However, the 20-times league champions could be set to face another transfer blow as Leeds want to make Phillips their highest-earning player, according to the Mirror.
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The 25-year-old still has three years remaining on a deal he signed in September 2019 but Leeds are keen to prevent him leaving.
They could end up offering Phillips £100,000 per week, making his potential deal the most lucrative in their squad.
The Leeds academy graduate has starred under Bielsa since the former Athletic Bilbao coach was appointed in 2019.
Phillips has been key to the club’s rise from Championship obscurity to a mid-table Premier League finish. Bielsa’s side earned their first win of the season on Saturday, defeating Watford 1-0 at Elland Road.
“Kalvin will face these decisions all his life,” the Argentine told reporters when asked about links to United.
“When you go for the money, or you go for the evolution, you resolve a moment in your career.
“When you opt for the affection of those people who love you, then the possibilities to be happy increase.”
Phillips will now join up with the England squad, with whom he is set to face Andorra and Hungary in the Three Lions’ World Cup qualifying group.
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