By Mark Smith

26th Nov, 2019 | 1:30pm

'I wasn't the best player' – Leeds mainstay claims Bielsa has transformed his game

Kalvin Phillips is the man of the moment. 

His career has been on an upward trajectory ever since Marcelo Bielsa arrived at Leeds United. 

It was Bielsa who took him back from his central midfield role and made him into such a good defensive mid that the Leeds fans call him the Yorkshire Pirlo.

Phillips himself is modest enough to credit Bielsa with the transformation in his career that’s seen the likes of Aston Villa try to sign him to the Premier League and Leeds turn down a massive offer of £27m for him in the summer. [The Athletic]

And it’s seen an article on Sky Sports run with the headline, “The best defensive midfielder in England?”

Leeds fans would certainly agree with that but there’s a growing feeling from outside Elland Road that Phillips could be the answer to the holding midfield position for England.

Talking on the Sky Sports EFL Podcast, Phillips said, “Obviously, the manager has come in and chosen the players that he wanted and obviously he’s done very well with me.

“I wasn’t the best player,” he added.

“The manager coming in and the coaching staff and the players around me have helped a lot.

“I never thought I’d be able to do this well. Just the way he makes us train, at 100% every day. Positional play, I felt like I could have played anywhere in midfield but he knew where he wanted me to play and it’s been a massive help.”

Phillips might just have given one of Bielsa’s big secrets away, too.

Asked about communication with a manager who seemingly doesn’t speak much English and who has a translator at all his press conferences, Phillips said, “He’s surprisingly good at English, I just think he doesn’t want people to know that.”

He seems to be getting his message across, not just to Phillips, but the entire Leeds squad.

Phillips is the engine of the side, though. He’s made 1,474 touches for Leeds in the Championship this season, more than any other player in the side. [WyScout]

He doesn’t just protect the Leeds defence – currently the best in the EFL – but he also kick-starts so many of the side’s attacks.

He’s made 187 passes to the final third this season, more than any other Leeds player. They wouldn’t be the same team without him and that’s why, for a lot of Leeds fans, the club simply has to get promoted this season. Or be left trying again next season without their engine.

In other Leeds United news, EFL rules on Patrick Bamford claim for second Leeds goal v Luton Town