Kalvin Phillips is one of the best players Leeds United have.
The 25-year-old is an absolute master of playing the game from the base of the midfield, spraying out long-range passes and winning possession back.
According to stats by WyScout, Phillips ranks 12th in the Premier League for long-range passes completed by outfield players . He’s also 11th for defensive duels per 90 minutes [9.83].
But, the England international is not doing enough, according to former Liverpool player Graeme Souness.
Writing on The Times website, Souness claimed that midfielders like Phillips need to be getting on the scoresheet more often.
He said: “If I have one criticism of modern midfielders, it’s that they should score more. The pitches now are perfect for striking the ball from 20-25 yards.
“Kalvin Phillips of Leeds, who I like a lot, is a lovely striker of the ball, so are Jordan Henderson and Fabinho at Liverpool. They should be scoring more goals.
“We saw Georginio Wijnaldum score a nice one against Wolves recently.”
While we’re not going to pretend we know more about being a top midfielder than Souness, is it that hard for him to realise that different midfielders have different jobs?
He’s there raving about Wijnaldum, who’s scored 20 goals in over 200 appearances for Liverpool.
If it’s an overall criticism he has about deeper-lying midfielders, then maybe he needs to realise that certain midfielders aren’t there to score goals.
In Souness’ day, the game was more rigid and you usually have two central midfielders who got up and down the pitch, helping in both the defence and the attack.
Nowadays, there are usually three midfielders and one is almost always a deep-lying one who doesn’t score many goals.
Should centre-backs score more goals because there are more free-kicks these days? Should full-backs score more goals because the modern-day full-back is effectively a second-winger these days?
Phillips doesn’t get into positions to score goals – even from 20 or 25 yards out – because he’s there as a deep-lying player.
As you can see in the heatmap below [WyScout], Phillips rarely gets near the opposition’s penalty area with the bulk of his play within his own half.
In the Premier League this season, Phillips has had just six shots at goal and only half of them have hit the target. It’s also worth mentioning that all but one of his shots have come from outside the penalty area.
He really hasn’t come that close to scoring with his best chance perhaps being that free-kick against Liverpool that went just wide of the goal.
Souness is talking absolute nonsense about Leeds’ £20,000-a-week [Mail] midfielder here.
Saying a midfield player should score more goals is such a tired, out-dated cliché.
If Marcelo Bielsa wanted Phillips to score more goals he wouldn’t be playing in the position he’s playing in every week.
In other Leeds United news, fans have torn into this player who “should be sold in January”.