After the Englishman impressed on his Premier League debut against West Ham in October, his manager hailed a “very good story” rather than the emergence of a major talent.
He also inadvertently gave a lot of things saying, “Tonight he was perfect, he helped the team incredibly. ”
While a lot had changed as Phillips bowed out in the Champions League against RB Leipzig earlier this month, Klopp still had the same tone.
After watching his side win a 2-0 victory, the German said: “Not many people have the honor of playing a Champions League game and he has it now and he played a very good game and he won it and qualified for the last eight.
“It’s really special. A few years ago, no one would have thought of that, and I’m really glad he can experience it now. ”
These were hardly the words of a man who believed Phillips would be a regular player in the first European Cup competition throughout his career.
But it is certain that even Klopp’s perceptions change with every test the Bolton-born defender passes, and with them the likelihood that his Anfield career will extend beyond this summer.
Last time around, Phillips presented offers from a number of Championship clubs with Bristol City and Swansea City coming closest to securing a deal before a move to the latter collapsed in the 11th hour .
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However, it’s not hard to imagine that interest from higher up the ladder could materialize if it were made available the next time the transfer window opens.
Still, with the player’s contract running until summer 2023, Liverpool are not yet under pressure to make a decision on that front.
And they’ll also be aware that Klopp’s problems at the center of defense won’t just evaporate when Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip return to training ahead of the new season.
Long term injuries are just that; they take time to recover and are often followed by a battle for sharpness and other issues.
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Therefore, even if Liverpool sign the center-back they want – and it remains to be seen if this is Ozan Kabak – there is reason to argue that they need five options for the next term. .
Given the progress he’s made this year and his full understanding of Klopp’s demands, Phillips is surely the best option for this supporting role, especially since Ben Davies’ future already looks uncertain.
Of course, it all depends on the player’s willingness to accept reduced playing time in a season that sees him turn 25.
But if he left Anfield it wouldn’t be to join another team fighting for top honors, and so one more year on Merseyside may well call.