Losing Kalvin Phillips would be most Leeds United fans’ worst nightmare.
The midfielder is the heartbeat of Marcelo Bielsa’s side, as well as being a local lad to boot, and he has all the ingredients needed to establish himself as a genuine club legend over the course of his career at Elland Road.
But those same assets are the exact reason why he is viewed as such a desirable transfer target in some quarters, with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur amongst the clubs who have been linked with potential swoops over the past 12 months.
But while the Elland Road faithful might be horrified by the prospect of him leaving, it would appear that the manager is altogether less panicked.
According to Leeds Live, Bielsa has already picked out prodigious Northern Ireland youth international Alfie McCalmont as Phillips’ replacement, should the 24-year-old ever leave the Whites.
But is McCalmont actually good enough to step in for the first team star if worst comes to worst and he does depart?
The early signs are certainly promising.
McCalmont may only have a handful of senior minutes to his name – 74 to be exact, spread across two EFL Cup outings – but he has already shown plenty of potential.
In those two appearances, he averaged a pass completion rate of 93.9%, as per Wyscout.
That figure is 9.1% higher than Phillips’ season average.
It’s not as if McCalmont has inflated his stats by playing fewer passes either – on average he completed 9.67 balls more than his first team counterpart.
Moreover, his total action success rate, a running tally of everything he did over the course of his time on the pitch, is 7.6% higher than Phillips’ average for 2019/20.
Of course, the likelihood is that the 20-year-old’s stats would fall away a little as he completed more minutes against tougher opposition.
Similarly, there are some areas in which he has shown little to no evidence of what he can do yet – as an example, he is still yet to have a shot or attempt a dribble for the senior side.
But as far as first impressions go, there is plenty to be hopeful about here.
His superb passing stats illustrate a player who can keep a game ticking over nicely, and his total action success rate show a young talent who is already capable of stepping into the breach with confidence.
Would he be ready to replace Phillips if the first teamer were to leave right this second? Perhaps not.
But could he be a long term option for Bielsa going forward? Absolutely, yes.
In other Leeds United news, ‘I have no doubt’ – Lee Bowyer issues verdict on Leeds promotion hopes.