Jack Harrison’s last gasp winner away at Brentford, securing Premier League survival on the season’s final day will go down in club folklore. The club looked dead and buried after three consecutive defeats against Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, but new manager Jesse Marsch galvanised his men to take four points from their final two games, acquiring them a place in English football’s top flight next term. The rescue act even garnered praise from Gary Neville, but the vultures are already circling around the Yorkshire club’s prized assets.
The talent in the ranks at Elland Road is unquestionable and had it not been for long-term injuries to star men such as Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford, it’s doubtful that the club would have been in the position they were in just a few short weeks ago. But now, with survival secured, Marsch’s attention must turn towards retaining his best players. If that isn’t possible, he must ensure that the club receives a handsome payday should they allow them to move on, providing the American with sufficient funds to bolster his squad. Here are four deals that could go down over the next few months…
Out – Kalvin Phillips
The jewel in the Leeds United crown is central midfielder, Kalvin Phillips. The playmaker is Leeds born and bred, having been at the club since the age of 14 and making 234 appearances for the club since breaking into the first team. Since his surprise inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s first starting eleven of Euro 2020 against Croatia, Phillips has gone from strength to strength, even winning England’s 2020/21 player of the year award.
With the amount of success that the Yorkshireman has had in recent years, it’s only natural to attract attention, even despite him coming off the back of an injury-hit campaign which reduced the dynamic midfielder to just 20 appearances. Phillips, as mentioned, is Leeds through and through, but as we saw with Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish last summer, sometimes that doesn’t mean anything, especially when Manchester City come calling. Pep Guardiola’s side are the favourites to secure his signature, and it wouldn’t be one of football’s greatest shocks to see their crown jewel head to the Etihad in the coming weeks.
Out – Raphinha
Another man who has impressed since his £16m move from Rennes two summers ago is Raphinha. But unfortunately for Leeds, he doesn’t have the same affinity to the club that the aforementioned Phillips does. The Brazilian winger featured in all but three of his club’s league games this season and top-scored with 11 goals. He has even managed to force his way into Tite’s national team plans and providing that his form doesn’t drop off a cliff, he can expect to be on a plane to Qatar this winter.
Such has been his consistency over the last two years, that some of Europe’s elite clubs are now sniffing around for his availability, with Barcelona the favourites to sign him. A problem for the Catalonian club however was Leeds’ top-flight safety act. Had they been relegated to the Championship, the Brazilian international would have been available at a cut-price of €25m thanks to a relegation release clause. With Premier League football still the order of the day at Elland Road, they can now put a price on Raphinha’s head and demand that their demands are met should Xavi wish to take the pacy wide man to the Nou Camp.
In – Takumi Minamino
Luckily for The Whites, it seems that a ready-made replacement should Raphinha leave has already been identified. The 2012 J. League Rookie of the Year hasn’t really set the world alight at Liverpool since his £7.5m move from Red Bull Salzburg back in January 2020 and is expected to leave Anfield this summer. Although the Japanese international hasn’t truly shone in Merseyside, during his time in Austria, that was all he did. He helped himself to 64 goals in 199 appearances during his time in the alps, six consecutive Bundesliga titles in the process. Jesse Marsch could do much worse than bringing the winger to the club, and he wouldn’t break the bank account either.
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