Liverpool centre-back Nathaniel Phillips has admitted that he wants to be ‘playing as much as possible’, which could pave the way for an exit from Anfield sooner rather than later.
Phillips played 90 minutes in 11 of Liverpool’s final 14 Premier League games of last season, a run of results that saw the Reds secure Champions League football after it had seemed unlikely.
But the return to fitness of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip this season, as well as the £36m summer arrival of Ibrahima Konate have severely limited his opportunities.
Phillips, who was close to dropping into the Championship to join Swansea on loan in the summer of 2020, has only featured in three first-team games so far this season. His minutes have totalled just 136 and 90 of those came in the Champions League dead rubber against Milan this week.
The 24-year-old agreed a new long-term contract with Liverpool in August but his prospects of regular game time amid so much competition aren’t expected to improve.
“All I can do is apply myself as much as possible in training and develop myself as much as possible. I feel like I’ve been seeing those developments over the last few seasons,” Phillips told the club’s official website this week.
“Obviously I want to be playing as much as possible but the competition is really difficult, so I’ve got to be ready when I’m called upon.
“I did get a bit fatigued [against Milan] – that’s going to happen when you play your first 90 minutes in a long time – but I felt overall I can be proud of my performance. And it just shows that the work that I have been putting in during training pays off.”
Phillips has been linked with West Ham in recent weeks, with the Hammers in the market for additional centre-back cover following Angelo Ogbonna’s season-ending injury.
Jurgen Klopp said earlier this month that Phillips is up there with Robert Lewandowski in terms of the players who have most improved under his tutelage.
“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,” the Reds boss explained.
“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 [January] window. He was fine doing it because he’s a great guy.
“I would sign him for any club except Liverpool, because we [already] have him.”