Kalvin Phillips finally made his first Manchester City start, more than six months after joining, in the defeat against Southampton recently but the game served as a cruel reminder of director of football Txiki Begiristain’s poor transfer business in the summer.
The England international would join Pep Guardiola‘s side in a deal worth £45m in the summer but has been plagued with injury and fitness issues during his spell at the Etihad, managing just five minutes of action in the Premier League.
This suggests that, even when he has been fit, Guardiola doesn’t really trust him to start yet, with Rodri far and away the number one choice in the defensive midfield position.
The former Leeds United man’s one start against Southampton certainly didn’t go to plan either, as he earned a disappointing 6.59 rating from WhoScored for his performance in the 2-0 defeat, with Guardiola axing the Englishman after just 63 minutes at St Mary’s.
To make matters worse, the 27-year-old was outshone by former City academy graduate Romeo Lavia, who moved to Southampton in a deal worth just £14m in the summer.
The Belgian youngster, who was once likened to Fernandinho at the Etihad, has spent much of this season on the sidelines through injury but has certainly caught the eye with his “impressive” performances, with his goal and display against Chelsea earlier in the season leading the Blues to bid £5om for his services on deadline day, a deal which they could revisit in this month’s transfer window.
Lavia would earn a 6.81 match raging from WhoScored for his performance against City in the League Cup, providing the assist for Moussa Djenepo’s goal.
The 19-year-old dynamo looks destined for a big future and should he complete a move away from the south coast club in the near future, City may well miss out on the opportunity to utilise their £40m buy-back clause.
Considering Lavia featured twice under Guardiola during his time at City, it seems clear that the Spanish manager rated him highly and was perhaps hoping to see him continue his development at the Etihad.
If we compare Lavia’s stats from this season to Phillips from last season with Leeds, we also see that the Saints star has averaged more interceptions (1.3 vs 1.2) and more dribbles (0.7 vs 0.4) per game, while he has also been dribbled past on far fewer occasions (0.6 vs 1.7).
While the City flop might technically be the more established player right now, Lavia’s promising stats and potential suggest that City may have made a big mistake in letting him go so cheaply in the summer, only to replace him with an older, more injury-prone midfielder.