Leeds United made big changes over the summer as there was a change in ownership, a removal of the sporting director, and a new manager came through the door.
Victor Orta ran the footballing operations prior to May of this year, when former owner Andrea Radrizzani and the Spaniard agreed to a mutual termination of his contract.
The 44-year-old chief, who is now with Sevilla in his home country, played his part in the club’s relegation to the Championship last season as his signings and managerial appointments did not come together to avoid the drop.
However, the Spanish sporting director was not without his highlights during his spell with the Whites as he did produce a number of impressive pieces of business.
One player Orta did play a masterclass with was central midfielder Kalvin Phillips as he raked in a huge transfer fee for the England international, who has struggled since moving on from Elland Road.
How many appearances did Kalvin Phillips make for Leeds?
The 27-year-old ace came up through the academy system at Leeds, having been born in the city, and ended up playing 234 times for the first-team in total before his move to Manchester City in 2022.
Phillips made his senior debut for the Whites during the 2014/15 campaign as he featured in two Championship matches and scored one goal. He then played ten league games and failed to contribute with a goal or an assist for the club throughout the following season.
His first year of regular first-team football came in the 2016/16 campaign as the defensive anchor played 40 times in all competitions and scored once from the middle of the park.
Phillips, who was once lauded as a “monster” by former Crystal Palace star Yannick Bolasie, became a fixture in the Leeds midfield over the subsequent years and eventually played a crucial role in their promotion back to the Premier League under Marcelo Bielsa in 2020.
The talented ace averaged a superb Sofascore rating of 7.28 across 37 Championship matches as the Whites went on to win the title and finished ten points clear of second-placed West Bromwich Albion in the 2019/20 season.
His performances in midfield were consistently impressive as only Pablo Hernandez (7.35) averaged a higher Sofascore rating for the Whites throughout the term, which shows that he was one of Bielsa’s standout performers on the way to promotion.
Phillips provided a constant defensive presence for Leeds as he made an eye-catching four tackles and interceptions per game, alongside a duel success rate of 54%, which was more than any other midfielder at the club that season.
He was then able to carry over his form to the Premier League as the England international averaged a Sofascore rating of 7.21 across 29 top-flight outings for the Whites. No player averaged a higher Sofascore rating than the academy graduate as he stood out for Bielsa at the top level.
The outstanding titan, who made 4.2 tackles and interceptions per game in the league that term, earned himself a call-up for his country for the European Championships in the summer of 2021 after his debut Premier League campaign.
Phillips started seven matches for England as they made it all the way to the final against Italy at Wembley, only to lose on penalties to Roberto Mancini’s side despite taking the lead through Luke Shaw in the first half.
His 2021/22 campaign, however, was then disrupted by a hamstring injury that kept him out of action for 16 competitive matches and the central midfielder only played 20 Premier League games for Leeds.
How much did Leeds sell Kalvin Phillips for?
Despite his lack of football that season, Orta was able to sell the homegrown talent for a reported fee of £45m to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the summer of 2022.
This was a significant amount of money for a player who came through the academy system at Elland Road and did not cost a penny for the club to sign. It represented an outstanding piece of business as they were able to develop a local player and turn him into a £45m asset whilst benefitting from his performances on the pitch for a number of years.
The move has also turned out to be a blinder from Orta as Phillips has gone on to struggle with the Cityzens over the last 12 months or so and has seen his value plummet.
At the time of writing (19/09/2023), FootballTransfers has his Expected Transfers value at €22.5m (£19m) and this is a staggering drop of £26m from the £45m deal that City agreed with Leeds to secure his services little more than a year ago.
Phillips only started two Premier League games for the Manchester-based outfit last season and played 12 matches in total in the division. He also only made three appearances, all of which came off the bench, in the Champions League as City went on to win the competition.
In December of last year, Guardiola claimed that the central midfielder came back from the break for the Qatar World Cup “overweight” and not in the right condition to train and play matches for his side.
The former Leeds star, who has been an unused substitute in six of City’s seven games this season, has been unable to break into the team on an even semi-regular basis as the likes of Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, and now Mateo Kovacic, have dominated the midfield spots.
This has resulted in his value plummeting over the last 12 months and that has, in turn, made the £45m deal that Orta struck for him look like a masterstroke from the Spaniard.
He appears to have struck gold with that piece of business as Phillips has not been able to prove his worth at The Etihad as of yet. Although, there is still plenty of time for him to turn things around as his contract does not expire until the end of the 2027/28 campaign.
There will be questions over how Orta used the money that the club received for the England international, as Leeds were ultimately relegated from the Premier League last term, but this transfer in isolation was a terrific deal for the Whites based on his career at City to date.