Marcelo Bielsa will be ‘proud’ if Kalvin Phillips stays at Leeds United but the head coach admits he cannot dictate the midfielder’s future.
The Whites’ Argentine boss remained tight-lipped over striker Kemar Roofe’s potential move to Anderlecht but he had plenty to say about homegrown talent Phillips.
Bielsa held the 23-year-old up as a shining example for the way in which he’s handled himself at Thorp Arch this summer, despite talk linking him with a big money move to Premier League side Aston Villa.
According to Bielsa, Phillips has shown that it’s possible to have both status and values.
“Kalvin was an example for everyone,” said Bielsa.
“In a context that is very professional, with a lot of the speculation which is not good, Kalvin is showing us that you can be a big player, a good player and at the same time respect the values that is very difficult to find.
“[He] deserves all the good things in the personal life because he teaches us how you can live professional life in football without forgetting about yourself, but keeping the behaviour in the right way.”
Bielsa suggested that Phillips has his priorities right when it comes to playing football and accruing wealth, but acknowledged that the highly rated local boy has it all coming to him.
“I can understand that the future will give him the things that he deserves, in all the levels that we are talking,” said the head coach.
“Personal and professional. He deserves all of the good things.
“There is a sentence that says if you think in money you will never be a professional player.
“If you are thinking to be a professional player, finally the money will come to you.
“The last part of the sentence will be for Kalvin.”
Although the conversation moved on from Phillips in today's press conference, Bielsa clearly felt he hadn’t sufficiently articulated all his thoughts on the matter.
Diverting from the topic of new boys Helder Costa and Ben White and their ‘confident’ adaptation to his style of football, he added that there was little he could do to influence Phillips’ decision making over the future.
“One thing to add to Kalvin,” he said.
“I am proud if he stays here, I chose him in the 18 players that are included in the squad, but I can’t decide if that is here or if he has to leave.
“I can’t share my idea about how I decide he has to be here.”
Bielsa’s thoughts on the departure of goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell to Burnley were along a similar theme.
He said it wasn’t his job to convince the Northern Ireland international to stay and if a player began to see greener grass elsewhere, it was the end of his time at Leeds.
“I haven’t convinced him to stay here,” said Bielsa.
“If he thinks it is not good for him to stay here or he chooses a place that is better, I haven’t to convince him.
“What is our role, or job, to give them all the best, all the comfortable things for them.
“I choose 18 players, we are building a place where the players like to stay here.
“After a player chooses another place, the club decides at the same time if it’s convenient for them to leave, I can’t tell you more about this.
“Nothing is more important than wanting to stay. If you lose this feeling, it’s impossible to recover this feeling.
“It’s impossible to try and convince him if he doesn’t want to stay here.”