One former Premier League defender has suggested a possible reason as to why Liverpool agreed to loan out Nat Phillips to Celtic until January rather than for the entirety of 2023/24.
The 26-year-old temporarily joined Brendan Rodgers’ side last month but is due to return to Anfield in the winter, having been signed by the Hoops to ease a defensive injury crisis.
It was put to Alan Hutton by Football Insider that the Scottish champions might’ve simply wanted a half-season loan until such time that their other defenders regain full fitness.
The ex-Tottenham right-back claimed that the duration of the move might’ve actually been Liverpool’s suggestion, stating: “It could also be from Liverpool’s point of view – do they want to sell him on? Do they want a fee in? Could that happen in January? Was it close to happening in the summer?
“There could be multiple things going on in the background. If he kicks on and does well it could possibly be a permanent move for Celtic; we will wait and see.”
It’s interesting that Hutton has suggested Liverpool might only have agreed to a half-season loan exit for Phillips with a view to possibly selling him outright in January.
The 26-year-old had been strongly linked with Championship duo Leeds and Middlesbrough before Celtic eventually swooped, with the Reds still owning his contract, which is set to expire in 2025 (Transfermarkt).
With injury precluding him from featuring in pre-season, his best chance of getting back into Jurgen Klopp’s thinking vanished, and the senior centre-back quartet of Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip has now been supplemented by the emergence of Jarell Quansah.
It was also telling that Liverpool had been trying hard to sign another central defender in Levi Colwill during the summer transfer window, which starkly shows the challenge Phillips had on his hands to get back into the first-team reckoning at Anfield.
Maybe the loan arrangement was purely to cover Celtic’s bases until they get their injured players back, but there’s logic to Hutton’s suggestion that the Reds may look to cash in during January.
Should the Bolton native enjoy a renaissance in Glasgow, that could perhaps pave the way for Rodgers to send a few million quid in the direction of his former club with a permanent deal for the defender.
In the meantime, we hope that Phillips can get some overdue minutes while at Parkhead so that the loan move has some benefit.