Phillips moved to Etihad for £42 million ($53.5m) from Leeds United on a six-year deal in July 2022. However, the midfielder had always struggled to find his feet under Guardiola. According to The Athletic, the team management raised concerns right from pre-season training in the summer of 2022 as Guardiola and his staff observed Phillips grappling with the intricacies of City's holding midfielder role.
City sold teenage midfielder Romeo Lavia to Southampton for £10.5 million just days after Phillips' arrival as they hoped that the English midfielder had enough quality to nail down a starting berth right from the start. However, after watching Phillips in training, Guardiola opined that the Belgian was a more natural fit for the team than the new signing.
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