Liverpool have reached an agreement with German club Stuttgart to allow on-loan defender Nathanial Phillips to return to the Reds, but Jurgen Klopp has suggested that he might not be at Anfield for very long.
The Reds are suffering from a number of defensive injuries with both Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren out injured, leading them to recall Phillips from the German Bundesliga 2 side.
Who is Nathaniel Phillips?: Five things to know…
- Nathaniel Phillips is the son of former footballer Jimmy Phillips who played for Oxford, Middlesbrough and Bolton.
- He is a 22-year-old central defender who came through the Bolton & Liverpool academies.
- He is an imposing 6 ft 3 in tall and signed a new contract with the Merseyside club back in August.
- He is yet to make a senior appearance for the Reds but played 11 times for Stuttgart this season.
- He has been recalled from his loan by Liverpool and could start in the FA Cup against Everton.
With injuries to key defenders as well as Brazilian midfielder Fabinho, Liverpool took the decision to recall Nathaniel Phillips from his spell with Stuttgart where he has been since the summer.
The defender signed a new contract with the Reds in August before heading out to Germany to get some game time but Klopp’s need for defensive cover has seen the club cut his stay abroad short.
A statement on the Liverpool website said: “Liverpool have reached an agreement with Stuttgart for Nathaniel Phillips to return from his loan spell in January.”
Phillips came through the Bolton academy where he played under his father. He was offered a scholarship to play in the US at the University of North Carolina but instead made the decision to sign for Liverpool.
Although he is yet to make a senior appearance he was an unused substitute in the European Champions League final in Madrid in 2019, a game which saw the Reds run out triumphant over Spurs.
Although Phillips’ recall will be seen as an undoubted positive for the player himself – as well as a huge opportunity to make an impression on Klopp – the Liverpool manager has hinted it is only a short-term solution, saying he will likely go back to Stuttgart after “a while”, with reports suggesting Phillips could return to the German outfit at the end of January if Liverpool‘s defensive crisis eases.
“He’s our boy, he’s on loan at Stuttgart and is doing really well there,” Klopp told Liverpool‘s official website.
Liverpool have won 55 points out of a possible 57 available after 19 Premier League games this season.
Enough to finish in the top half of every 38-match campaign in the competition's history. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/J9RLFM47SQ
— Coral (@Coral) December 29, 2019
“For people who don’t know, Stuttgart pretty much should be, together with Hamburg, the best team in the second division. They are third in the moment, they want to get promoted obviously, and they, unfortunately, sacked the manager because they are not happy with third place so you see how ambitious they are.
“They are a football-playing side and Nat is doing there really, really well. He played, I think, 11 games.
“Now we have the situation that we have and we thought ‘what can we do to help us a little bit?’ and we asked Stuttgart if they would be ready to give him back to us for a while and they said ‘OK’.
“I don’t think we asked Nat, actually, but he looked really happy yesterday [Friday] when he was in the dressing room so it’s just a nice story that we can do something like this. I hope that from Everton he will be available.”
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Phillips is an old fashion centre back but, for his size, is very useful with his feet. His long legs allow him to push past players of smaller stature and his passing ability is also decent.
He is strong in the air and calm in possession making him adept at playing out from the back, although he often plays safety first rather than risk getting caught on the ball.
Playing alongside someone like Virgil van Dijk could help Phillips develop even further but as it stands he appears a promising young player for the Reds.
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