Player analysis: Kalvin Phillips vs Declan Rice in Man City system

As City lose Ilkay Gundogan this summer, and rumours of PSG being interested in Bernardo Silva, Manchester City could be in the market for another midfielder.

City are interested in Declan Rice after Arsenal saw multiple bids rejected by West Ham. The Blues have also seen their first bid for Rice rejected.

Some reports suggest that Kalvin Phillips could be used in a swap deal despite his comments about wanting to stay with the Blues.

Of course, City could end up with both players. This player analysis will reflect on the ways in which both could fit into Pep Guardiola’s system.

Player analysis: Kalvin Phillips

Phillips is traditionally a box-to-box midfielder. However, his versatility has seen him play well in various positions. For England he is typically seen in a double pivot alongside Declan Rice.

However, Phillips played in a more attacking midfielder role previously. Bielsa developed the young talent to adopt a new role. Guardiola is a huge fan of Bielsa, with comparative styles of play over the years.

Phillips is as hard-working as he is intelligent. A player that has precise long-balls in his kitbag. During his time at Leeds he was able to pick up excellent positioning to prevent the oppositions’ transition in counterattack.

Meanwhile, his ball distribution enabled him to progress his own teams counter quickly. Often playing as a lone deep-lying midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 formation, he was skilled enough to drop into the backline.

Phillips won 20/21 England Men’s Player of the Year Award after impressive performances for his national team.

Possibly an underrated aspect of his game is the ability to soak up pressure on the ball. Surprisingly, he had a ten-goal season before being moved to a deeper role. Phillips does have experience of playing as a number ten.

His intelligence and awareness allows him to make impressive defensive contributions, picking up space in the channels to intercept or prevent counterattacks.

Of Europe’s top five leagues, Phillips is placed in the top 3% in number of tackles. While being in the top 4% for blocks made.

As it stands, the eye test tells us that Phillips is better on the ball with his line-breaking passes and his long-ball range. His versatility in deeper roles, the lone CDM role and the number ten position.

Stats (Leeds): 234 appearances; 14 goals and 13 assists.

Player analysis: Declan Rice

Declan Rice is a talent undoubtedly. His strengths are his defensive ability. Rice has a sound awareness of positioning during the opposition transitions, allowing him to prevent the counter attack.

Unlike Phillips, his experience in terms of style of play is very much in contrast to Manchester City’s.

With zonal positioning, he is disciplined and aggressive in his defensive duties. Another intelligent player who moves into the right spaces to cut off attacking channels.

He has a good understanding of his role and the game that West Ham play. This assists him in the build up for his teammates.

During periods of possession, we will find Rice in the centre, slightly left. Rice typically stays in deeper positions staying behind the attacking phase of play. When out of position, he works hard and can be found wherever he is needed.

Against more compact low-blocks and under less pressure Rice becomes more influential in all phases of play, including attacking build up.

The West Ham captain is very comfortable on the ball. He has proven himself crucial to his teams build-up play from deeper positions.

He is excellent in the air. Winning aerial duels and threatening during set-pieces. His ability to read the game is impressive illustrated in his ability to break-up the opposition counter.

His recoveries however will need work should he join a side like Manchester City. Ranking way below his peers in similar positions statistically.

Stats (West Ham): 245 appearances; 15 goals and 13 assists.

Player analysis: in conclusion

Both players are talented. Though both bring different qualities to their game.

Declan Rice highlighted that he is closer to Rodri in style (not quality). Nevertheless, Guardiola is the best coach for a young midfielder to develop under.

Kalvin Phillips highlighted that while as defensively astute as Rice, his ability to play more advanced positions is typical City. Additionally, his experience under Bielsa in a high intensity system could be a crucial benefit.

Neither players are as technically solid as typical City midfielders such as Gundo or Bernardo. Though their mentalities are to be admired.

We are entering a new Guardiola era it would seem. One in which could see the midfield for the future built around Phil Foden as a ten.

The addition of Phillips and Rice to the squad opens up the possibility of various formations.

Tags Declan Rice Kalvin Phillips Leeds United Manchester City Pep Guardiola Premier League West Ham United