Kalvin Phillips has been linked with Manchester United, but Marcelo Bielsa claims the Leeds United star would only leave the club with his legacy intact.
Phillips impressed in his maiden season in the Premier League last term, and then helped England reach the final of Euro 2020.
This week, the holding midfielder was linked with a move to Leeds’ rivals Manchester United, who are reportedly keen on the 25-year-old.
But Bielsa believes Phillips wants to ensure a lasting legacy at Elland Road.
“I’m sure the day he leaves Leeds and the way that he does it, far from provoking disappointment – of course it will generate disappointment – but it’s going to solidify his link to the club, the people and the city,” Bielsa told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s match with Watford. “I’m sure he would only leave if it’s guaranteed that the link to the place where he was born remains intact. He will know how to do it.”
Leeds have yet to win a league game in 2021-22, and will be hoping to break that duck against Watford, who sit 12th on seven points.
And Watford boss Xisco Munoz is relishing the chance to go up against Bielsa.
“I know exactly what is the style of Marcelo and I’m sure we will try to give a very good performance,” Munoz said. “The last time I saw him was when we met in the Premier League meetings. But we always know about him because he’s a big manager in the world and he has a different style, he has different things.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Leeds United – Raphinha
Patrick Bamford is out injured for Leeds, meaning more onus will be on Raphinha – who has scored in his last two league games – to be the main attacking threat. No player has had more shots from outside the box in the Premier League this season than the winger (14), with 74 per cent of the Brazilian’s total attempts this term coming from distance (14/19).
Watford – Ismaila Sarr
Only Mohamed Salah (15) has had more shots on target than Watford’s Ismaila Sarr so far in the Premier League this season, with 11 of the Senegalese’s 16 total attempts being on target so far (including four goals).
KEY OPTA FACTS
Watford’s 3-1 win at Norwich in their last away game ended a run of eight consecutive away defeats in the Premier League. The Hornets last won consecutive top-flight games on the road back in September 2017 (three).
Since the start of last season, Leeds have scored more Premier League goals from outside the box than any other side (17), including three of their six strikes this season. Meanwhile, only Crystal Palace (four) have shipped more goals from distance so far this term than Watford (three).
Leeds have already dropped five points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, drawing at Newcastle before losing at home to West Ham. The Whites only dropped six points when leading in the whole of 2020-21.
Watford are unbeaten in their last five away league games against Leeds (W3 D2), netting 16 goals in these five matches since a 2-1 loss in February 2006.
Leeds have won both of their previous top-flight meetings with Watford, winning 2-1 away and 3-1 at home in the 1999-00 Premier League campaign.