WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR NAT PHILLIPS?
With all the exciting news regarding incomings in the summer transfer window, a few potential outgoings have slipped under the radar for Liverpool. One such player expected to depart this summer is centre back Nathaniel Phillips.
Sky are reporting an approach has been made for the centre back by newly promoted Bournemouth to take the 25 year old on loan for the 2022/23 season. Phillips of course spent the second half of last season on loan at the Cherries, making 18 appearances.
He played his part in helping Scott Parker’s side finish second in the Championship to seal automatic promotion to the Premier League. What does the future hold for the affectionately nicknamed ‘Bolton Baresi’ though?
Said Sky report curiously states that Liverpool are weighing up the loan offer after changing their mind on the defender. The plan initially was to let him go permanently, but apparently the Reds have changed their minds as they view Phillips as ‘a potential Matip replacement’.
This is a surprising update considering Phillips’ age. At 25 years old, Nat is approaching the prime of his career and has only ever had two seasons of 20+ appearances under his belt. The first of those seasons came on loan at Stuttgart in 2019/20.
The second of course came in his breakthrough season at Liverpool in 2020/21, when a centre back injury crisis saw the Bolton native make 20 appearances for the Reds. He became a bit of a cult hero for his performances in the run in especially (alongside Rhys Williams).
He was a huge part of the Reds’ successfully securing Champions League qualification. Jürgen Klopp revealed recently that his second text message in the immediate aftermath of sealing a place in the Champions League final this season was sent to the battle hardened duo.
Nat fell down the pecking order in the first half of last season, making just three appearances before the club sanctioned the loan move to Bournemouth where he was first choice alongside Lloyd Kelly. This summer once again presents uncertainty on his future.
A permanent move is what is best for his career as it sorts out his long term future. He’s already spent too long not playing enough games, or knowing where he’d be the following season. Another loan move only delays the inevitable and keeps him in permanent limbo.
Joel Matip, the man he is reportedly set to replace in the long term is still ‘only’ 30 years old. In centre back terms, he’s still in his prime. Joel has two more years left on his Liverpool contract and is coming off the back of his best ever season so isn’t necessarily slowing down.
Add in the fact that Joe Gomez (24) and Ibrahima Konaté (22) (both younger than Nat) remain at the club and Phillips’ future is thrown into further doubt. As well as Nat has done when he’s gotten his chance, he’s not exactly a stylistic fit.
He’s an old school centre back who relishes the battle. He’s not your archetypical Klopp centre back and it’s hard to picture a long term future for him at the club. He will be perfect for Bournemouth or any other Premier League side in the lower half of the table.
His sale could fetch the club up to £15million which could help offset the hefty fee paid to Benfica for Darwin Nunez. Nat has paid his dues and deserves a permanent move to sort his long term future at a club where he will be first choice.
Jürgen Klopp prides himself on doing right by his players, and granting Nat a permanent move this window is the right thing to do. The club might have to lower their asking price to get the deal done but it’s the least he deserves.
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