By Graham Hill
AFTER breaking their transfer record to sign Wesley Moraes from Club Brugge, Villa now have their sights set firmly on the Yorkshire Pirlo.
Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips, 23, is a player Villa boss Dean Smith wants on board for the new Premier League season,
Phillips has been standout form at Elland Road over the past few months – even though Marcelo Bielsa’s side ultimately missed out on promotion.
Some Leeds fans have compared him to David Batty – a key member of the club’s 1990 promotion campaign – and one match in particular drew rave reviews as Phillips made 73 successful passes.
After progressing through the club’s youth ranks, Leeds-born Phillips signed his first professional deal with the club in the summer of 2014.
Three years ago, the defensive midfielder signed a new deal under then-Leeds boss Garry Monk.
On the opening day of the 2017–18 Championship season, Phillips scored twice to ensure Leeds beat Bolton 3-2 and he achieved his best goal return for the club that season,
Last year, Phillips revealed he had been training as a centre back and a deep-lying playmaker ahead of the 2018–19 season, as part of new coach Bielsa’s tactics.
As the season started, he was deployed as the holding midfielder in a 4–1–4–1 formation. On August 22, he made his 100th senior appearance for Leeds in a 2–2 draw against Swansea City.
Phillips was briefly linked with a possible call up for the England side – and a move to Villa would enhance his international ambitions if he gels. In March, he was named in the EFL Championship team the season.
Now The Telegraph say that Villa boss Dean Smith has long been an admirer of Phillips and wants him as part of his summer rebuild.