Gabriel Agbonlahor has claimed that Nathaniel Phillips is not a ‘good enough’ centre-half to justify holding down a spot with a Premier League outfit, let alone a ‘top end’ one.
The 24-year-old has been sidelined of late by the availability of Liverpool’s first-choice centre-halves, with Virgil van Dijk back in action after having been ruled out for most of the prior season.
“Nat Phillips is not a Premier League centre-half,” the former Aston Villa hitman told Football Insider.
“I’ve watched a bit of him now at Liverpool and he’s not good enough.
“For me, he’s a Championship player at best, he’s not good enough for the Premier League, especially at the top end.”
Despite his performance in Europe, it’s fair to suggest that the centre-half will be dropped from the starting-XI set to face Aston Villa – which supporters can bet on safely with the help of Matched Betting UK – with Steven Gerrard’s Villans making the trip to Anfield.
The Bolton-born defender, lovingly dubbed by Reds fans ‘the Bolton Baresi’, did see some significant action in the Merseysiders’ final Champions League group game, playing the full 90 minutes in a 2-1 victory over AC Milan.
The Englishman played a more than solid game for Jurgen Klopp as the club maintained its 100% record in the group stage (becoming the first English side to do so), delighting fans with a magnificent Cruyff turn in the second-half.
The fact that he isn’t one of the first names on the teamsheet, however, should hardly go against him – if that’s what Agbonlahor is basing his review of the player on.
It couldn’t possibly be based on Phillips’ actual performances given that the ex-Stuttgart loanee was perceived as being absolutely integral to us gaining a Champions League spot last season whilst injuries had ripped through the core of our backline.
That’s not to say that the No.47 should be expecting a call from the likes of Manchester City or Chelsea (or any of Europe’s elite for that matter), but it’s arguably more than evident that he’s well-suited to the demands of the English top-flight.
To put it simply, whilst Liverpool are incredibly fortunate to have a player of the defender’s calibre at our disposal, he’s ultimately wasted as a fifth-choice centre-back.
It’s a point that some reports would appear to agree with, given that links to other Premier League outfits continue to persist, with Fabrizio Romano having recently confirmed Newcastle United’s interest.
Phillips would be a player many a Red would be disappointed to lose (for reasons beyond his cult hero status), but the future of the 24-year-old very much should remain at the pinnacle of English football should he decide to seek pastures new.