Kalvin Phillips has revealed that he never intended to join Manchester United because of his close relationship with their historic rivals Leeds.
The midfielder joined Manchester City from his boyhood club Leeds in a £42 million deal this summer.
Phillips, who was born in the Yorkshire city, progressed through the club’s academy before making his first-team debut in the Championship. Following his promotion back to the Premier League in 2020, he has established himself as one of the top defensive midfielders in the league, a rise to prominence that has seen him become a regular feature in Gareth Southgate’s England setup.
Phillips had the opportunity to join Manchester United after impressing a number of top clubs over the previous two seasons, but he declined due to his and his family’s close ties with Leeds, instead opting to join United’s local rivals.
“Going to United? There was never any chance of me going there,” the 26-year-old told the Daily Mail while on pre-season tour with City. “You know my loyalty to Leeds. My family are all Leeds fans.
“I was honoured by United wanting me, one of the biggest teams in the world but, no, I had to stay loyal to Leeds and go to the other side of Manchester. It’s just the way I am. I want to be loyal to the people who have given me the biggest opportunity in the world.”
Phillips made his City debut in the second half of Wednesday night’s friendly victory over Club America in Houston.
He continued, discussing the challenge he faces at his new club, with Rodri ahead of him in the defensive midfield pecking order: “It’s a risk and reward thing. I want to come here and prove myself against the best players in the world.
“I know there will be times I’m pulling my hair out because it is so difficult but that is what I wanted. At Leeds I was the guy who needed to play every game, at City that isn’t the case. I need to get my head around that.”