Kalvin Phillips’ situation at Manchester City is interesting, and his role with the team is undoubtedly a topic of debate.

Since his £45 million transfer from Leeds in July 2022, Phillips has appeared in 31 matches for City. In December, Pep Guardiola acknowledged that he could not see the English midfielder fit into his team.

Phillips’ Debut Season with City

City beat Manchester United to sign Phillips in August 2022, as the midfielder was not keen on joining the Red Devils. However, his debut season with the Blues was marred by a shoulder injury sustained in a friendly against Barcelona in August, which recurred in September, leading to surgery.

Phillips played only four matches before the World Cup in Qatar and was sidelined upon the season’s resumption. Guardiola revealed in December that Phillips had returned from Qatar “overweight,” explaining his continued absence.

Although Phillips regained fitness and rejoined the squad, he was rarely featured, making just two league starts after City secured the title. He started once in the FA Cup against Bristol City and was excluded from the semi-final against Sheffield United, even when Guardiola rotated his lineup.

Underwhelming Loan Spell at West Ham

Phillips signed with West Ham United on loan until the end of the season on January 26, 2024, without an option for a permanent transfer. He debuted for West Ham on February 1 in a 1-1 home draw against AFC Bournemouth. Unfortunately, an error on his part, passing the ball to Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke, resulted in their opening goal in the third minute. Even at West Ham United, the central midfielder has been unable to make a considerable impact.

Kalvin Phillips’ loan spell at West Ham has ended prematurely due to a calf injury, capping off a disappointing four months with the club. Despite joining in January to secure regular playing time and bolster his England prospects, Phillips made just three starts across all competitions.

His time at West Ham was marked by costly errors, including mistakes leading to goals on his debut and against Manchester United and a red card against Nottingham Forest. A penalty conceded in a late collapse against Newcastle further marred his spell, ultimately leading to his exclusion from Gareth Southgate’s England plans ahead of the European Championship.

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Man City Return and Midfield Woes

After a failed stint with West Ham, Phillips will return to Manchester City, his parent club. The failure of Phillips’s loan raises a question mark about his position at Manchester City. Pep’s side needs a midfielder as good as Rodri to solve their midfield woes. However, looking at the disastrous spell from Phillips at West Ham, it is increasingly unlikely that Philiips will be an able deputy for the Spaniard.

While Manchester City boasts a talented squad, especially in midfield, no player in Guardiola’s team can replicate Rodri’s impact. When Rodri is unavailable, City often struggles. In 2023, City lost only four competitive matches lasting 90 minutes: in the Carabao Cup to Southampton and Newcastle and in the league to Tottenham and Brentford.

Rodri started just one of these games. In contrast, during the 2021-22 season, City lost nine matches across all competitions, with Rodri starting only four. Comparing Rodri’s record to that of Phillips, his theoretical backup, reveals a stark contrast. Phillips, the England international signed from Leeds in 2022, has started just five matches, three of which ended in defeat.

City future?

Phillips is contracted to City until 2028, having signed a six-year deal upon his arrival in 2022. Guardiola has acknowledged that he struggles to see Phillips fitting into his team, and Phillips’s performance at West Ham is unlikely to have altered that perception.

City signed Phillips for £42 million in 2022, and they hope to recover that fee if they sell him. However, his form since joining City has likely diminished his market value. Another loan move might be a possibility, and his performance in the pre-season or regular season, that is, if he gets an opportunity to play, will determine how much interest there is in him during the summer transfer window.

Final Thoughts

Kalvin Phillips’ journey at Manchester City has been tumultuous. His loan spell at West Ham, intended to provide him with valuable playing time and bolster his England prospects, ended in disappointment due to a series of errors and a calf injury that prematurely halted his stint. Despite his struggles, Phillips remains under contract with City until 2028, presenting a dilemma for the club.