Nat Phillips was forced into a starting role for Liverpool in a very tough 2020-21 campaign. He wasn’t expected to really be part of the side that season, but injuries ended up making him a key contributor. In the end, his efforts were vital in helping Liverpool stay in the top four and qualify for the Champions League.
While Phillips has received well-deserved praise from Liverpool fans, we all basically assumed his time at the club would be over sooner rather than later, especially with Ibrahima Konaté’s arrival last summer. With four senior central defenders ahead of him, Phillips went on loan to Championship side Bournemouth in January and it looked like his Liverpool career would officially end this summer.
Now though, after a successful season with the Cherries that saw Phillips help them win promotion, Liverpool are apparently rethinking the plan to offload him this summer. According to the Liverpool Echo, LFC are mulling over whether the 25-year-old could be a potential long-term replacement for Joël Matip.
So, with the club being unsure if moving on from Phillips is the right move at this time, they are said to be considering another loan spell to buy them another year to assess if Phillips is part of the long-term plan.
Phillips is apparently happy with life at Bournemouth, and their promotion could provide an opportunity for him to get meaningful minutes against Premier League competition on a regular basis. So, if the Reds do opt to loan him out once again, going back to Bournemouth is clearly the preferred option.
If Liverpool really do see Phillips as a potential Matip replacement, there is seemingly little risk in buying themselves another year to make a decision. He has now acquitted himself quite well in back-to-back seasons, so the chances he plays poorly enough to decrease the £15m price tag they’re putting on him at the moment seems low.
The likely worst-case scenario is he maintains his value and Liverpool decide to move him next summer for a fee quite similar to what they could get this summer. When the possible upside is he improves on his value. or even shows the club he can be a long-term solution at CB, giving him another year at Bournemouth while they weigh their options makes a lot of sense.