Marcelo Bielsa believes Kalvin Phillips’ England form has taken him to new heights with Leeds after boss denied rumours of a bust-up between the pair
- Marcelo Bielsa hooked Kalvin Phillips at half-time during draw with Brighton
- It led to suggestions the pair had fallen out – but both denied it last week
- Leeds United boss believes Phillips’ influence in games is growing stronger
- He believes it is linked with Phillips becoming an important player for England
Marcelo Bielsa believes Kalvin Phillips’ remarkable rise to prominence with England has allowed him to reach new heights for Leeds United.
Bielsa was this week forced to fend off rumours of a bust-up with his star man after substituting him at half-time during last Saturday’s goalless draw at Brighton.
Phillips, who turned 26 on Wednesday – he shares a birthday with Leeds legend David Batty – also moved quickly to dismiss talk he had fallen out with Bielsa.
The influence of Kalvin Phillips for club and country has been praised by boss Marcelo Bielsa
Bielsa took Phillips off at half-time during his team’s goalless draw at Brighton last weekend
Phillips has proved a key figure in Leeds’ Bielsa-inspired resurgence since the Argentinian arrived in the summer of 2018 and talks with the midfielder’s representatives over a new long-term deal are ongoing.
Phillips has won 19 England caps since making his debut in September 2020 and Bielsa said: ‘Kalvin has obtained a prestige that allows him to have bigger influence in the games and his team-mates perceive that capacity.
‘He’s improved a lot in the moments of a game and he knows how to find a solution that each action demands.
‘He’s matured a lot in his interpretation to take the best solution.
‘Kalvin is playing at very, very high levels and has shown that the responsibility doesn’t inhibit him – it improves him.’
Phillips has become increasingly important for Gareth Southgate (right) and England
Phillips was outstanding during England’s Euro 2020 campaign as Gareth Southgate’s reached the final, losing to Italy on penalties in heartbreaking fashion.
Phillips’ performances saw him voted England’s Player of the Year by fans and Bielsa added: ‘To be a star in the team that competes in a team which lost the final of the Euros on penalties, to belong to that collective is very, very difficult. But Kalvin did it.’
Amid uncertainty over whether Bielsa will extend his stay at Elland Road into a fifth season, the 66-year-old will bid to steer Leeds further away from relegation danger today.
Brentford are the visitors and Leeds are set to be boosted by the return of defender Luke Ayling and striker Patrick Bamford.
Patrick Bamford is set to return as Leeds take on Brentford in a boost for Marcelo Bielsa
Thomas Frank’s side have made an encouraging start to life in the Premier League following their promotion last term.
Yet Bielsa said: ‘To be good is not that difficult. But to show it for nine or 10 months continuously is more difficult.
‘You look at the results every weekend in the Championship and you can see there are victories and defeats which are unexpected.
‘It’s harder to compete in the Premier League, which is superior clearly.
‘All of the teams, quite apart from being well-organised, have great players.
‘The mental demands to play in the Premier League are very, very high. But it’s also a great challenge.’