Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hailed the development of Nathaniel Phillips but has admitted that the defender could leave the club.
Speaking to reporters, as quoted by GOAL, Jurgen Klopp hailed the development of Liverpool defender Nathaniel Phillips at the club but has admitted that the 24-year-old could depart Anfield in the near future.
Phillips signed for Liverpool from Bolton Wanderers in the summer of 2016. The defender made his first-team debut for the Reds in January last year, either side of which he was loaned out to VfB Stuttgart. Upon returning in the summer of 2020, the centre-back was retained by Klopp rather than sending him out on loan again or outright selling him.
And that decision came in extremely handy for Liverpool after they were dealt with several injury blows in defence during the last season. Indeed, Klopp had to make do without premier defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, while Joel Matip also had injury issues for large parts of the campaign.
And the manager was forced to turn towards Phillips, who put up some inspiring displays at the heart of the defence in the second half of the campaign, to help Liverpool finish in the top four, after looking down and out.
Klopp has now hailed how far the defender has come over the past year, comparing his development to that of Robert Lewandowski. He said: “People often ask me which player made the biggest improvements under my leadership, and I say Robert Lewandowski. That’s probably right, but not far off that is Nat Phillips, just in a completely different department.
“I remember when I saw Nat Phillips first. I spoke to him after the game and he’s one of the smartest players I ever worked with. I told him, ‘You know you are not the easiest on the eye, eh?’ He improved in pretty much everything since, and he’s not playing.”
Klopp then hinted that Liverpool might have to let him go sooner or later, considering that he is behind Van Dijk, Gomez, Matip and Ibrahima Konate in the pecking order. “Life is sometimes not fair and I can’t blame him. We cannot keep him forever, that’s clear. We needed him, just to be safe, for that half-year. We will see what happens in the window. He was fine doing it because he’s a great guy,” he said.
Phillips has emerged as a January transfer target for West Ham United. In addition, Newcastle United are also interested in signing him. With no shortage of suitors in the Premier League, it will be interesting to see if Liverpool sanction a sale next month.