Why Liverpool must hold onto Nathaniel Phillips
According to Stuttgarter Nachrichten (h/t Liverpool Echo), German side Stuttgart wish to keep Liverpool defender Nathaniel Phillips on loan for another season.
The 22-year-old Phillips is currently is on a season-long loan with Bundesliga second division side Stuttgart, who are second in the league table. Phillips’ current loan deal with them is set to expire this summer and is expected to return to Anfield, where his contract runs till 2021.
Having struggled for games early in the season, Phillips soon established himself at the heart of Stuttgart’s defence, making 19 appearances in total across all competitions. He also has six clean sheets to his name in the league and has been crucial to Stuttgart’s rise to the top, after excelling at the back in the latter half of the season.
With the centre-back featuring in 10 of their last 11 league outings, managing five clean sheets, Stuttgart are now interested in signing him on loan for one more season.
Phillips a handy addition for Liverpool at the back
Meanwhile, Liverpool have enjoyed a successful campaign this season, with the club currently staying on top of the Premier League table. However, Liverpool had faced an injury crisis in the centre-back role midway through the season, forcing them to recall Phillips in January whilst on loan at Stuttgart.
Despite, Liverpool’s troubles at the back, he was sent back to Germany a few days later after making his first-team debut for Liverpool in the FA Cup third-round match vs Everton. A Reds academy graduate, Phillips had till then never made a senior appearance for his parent club.
Meanwhile, injuries to seasoned campaigners Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren has seen young Englishman Joe Gomez establish himself as the side’s first-choice centre-back alongside main man Virgil van Dijk this season.
Matip, who was crucial to Liverpool’s Champions League success last year alongside van Dijk at the back, has spent the major part of the season on the sidelines due to a knee injury. Lovren, on the other hand, regained his place in the side but soon fell out of favour after sustaining an injury that saw Gomez establish himself as Klopp’s first-choice man at the back.
Moreover, Lovren will turn 31 this July and is no more the defender that he once was, proving Klopp’s decision to favour young Gomez alongside Van Dijk in the Reds defence right.
That said, it would be wise of Liverpool to keep Phillips with them if they wish to stay on top in the coming days. Also, having established himself in Germany, the young Englishman could prove to be a handy addition to the Reds’ title pursuit next season.
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Liverpool, who currently have four centre-backs, have managed to hang on to the top spot this season despite their injury concerns. However, this may not serve them well in the long run and keeping Phillips in the team seems like a right decision.