Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips has previously named Kevin De Bruyne as the toughest opponent that he has ever faced amid reports that Manchester City are set to step up their interest in his signature.

According to a report by the Mail, Leeds are expecting City to ‘test their resolve’ for the defensive-midfielder once England have concluded their current crop of Nations League fixtures next week. The Leeds academy graduate has gone from strength-to-strength since the Whites were promoted to the Premier League almost two years ago and he is being linked with several big-name clubs.

City, as well as cross-city rivals Manchester United, have been heavily linked with his signature, with both outfits set to try and strengthen their midfield options this summer. Phillips, according to the report, has been identified as Pep Guardiola’s preferred choice to replace the outgoing Fernandinho.

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Phillips, who was forced off with an injury during England’s 1-1 draw with Germany on Tuesday night, is considered as one of the best defensive-midfielders in the Premier League. His ability to get around the pitch and stick a tackle in is what makes him the player he is.

With City reportedly stepping up their interest, the prospect of joining the Blues could tempt Phillips, possibly because it would allow him to rub shoulders with a collection of star-studded talent, including De Bruyne. The England ace first faced City’s architect-in-chief when Guardiola’s side visited Elland Road in October 2020, but he was relishing facing him before the season had even started.

Speaking back in September 2020, Phillips said: “I don’t know about trying to stop him, but I think he’s an amazing player, probably the best midfielder in the world. I look at midfielders around the world, and I see him as the best.

“It will be amazing to play against him, but I’m not too sure how I’d do, to be honest.”

Phillips got the opportunity to try and stop him when City visited Elland Road in November 2020. The two sides contested an entertaining 1-1 draw in a behind-closed-doors encounter and De Bruyne left a lasting impact on Phillips.

Asked by GAFFER who the best opponent is that he has ever faced, Phillips, speaking in November last year, said: “De Bruyne. He’s just strong, quick, fast. Can score goals. Very hard to tackle.”

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