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Life after Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips: What are Leeds doing?

Sky Sports News senior reporter Tim Thornton examines the challenges Jesse Marsch faces with his two best players exiting the club this summer

Leeds United's Raphinha (left) and Kalvin Phillips embrace after the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Picture date: Monday April 25, 2022.
Image: Leeds United's Raphinha (left) and Kalvin Phillips appear set to leave the club this summer

Sky Sports News senior reporter Tim Thornton examines what's next for Leeds with key players Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips exiting the club this summer...

Leeds have been fully aware these moves could happen for a while. They even knew last summer Marcelo Bielsa could leave the club.

In January, they managed to fight off interest and keep Phillips and Raphinha and they have been planning ever since. They have already made three signings this summer in Brenden Aaronson, Rasmus Kristensen and Marc Roca. Those players would have signed regardless, but there's money in the kitty now.

We expect Leeds to move quickly and bring new players to the club: another midfielder, a winger and a striker to play alongside Patrick Bamford as Jesse Marsch likes to play two up front.

Leeds United's Raphinha during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Manchester City at Elland Road in Leeds, England, Saturday, April 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)..
Image: Leeds paid £16m for Raphinha and are now set to cash in

Leeds paid £16m for Raphinha and will look to do the same by buying players early and developing them. That's the strategy. They won't spend £60m to £70m on a player. They have identified targets, they know who they want and they will move quickly to bring them in.

If Leeds can get three more in then they can argue it's been a good window - even though they have lost two massive players.

Phillips leaves as a Leeds legend, he deserves Man City move

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As Kalvin Phillips completes a move to Manchester City, watch the England midfielder's best bits for Leeds United in the Premier League

Phillips has been a fantastic servant for Leeds and I don't think any fans would begrudge him for moving to Manchester City.

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It's the next stage for him: Champions League football and challenging for titles. He's done all he can do for Leeds - he kept them up last season and he'll always be a legend at the club.

Leeds go to Australia on Monday week so in terms of transfers there is a timeline and a deadline to get the ones out that are going and try to get ones in, but I think they are ready to move on the targets providing these deals go through as expected.

Chelsea edging closer on Raphinha deal - Leeds planned for exit

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A look back at Raphinha's best Premier League goals, as the Leeds winger attracts interest from several top clubs after another brilliant season

Discussions are ongoing with Chelsea over Raphinha, it's a deal that's edging closer but it's not done yet. We know that Arsenal are interested in him and they had a bid rejected. Barcelona are keen, Tottenham as well.

Chelsea's interest is a long-standing one and the deal is edging closer. Leeds are yet to receive a written offer so it's about going through the technicalities of the deal now and the formalities. It looks like the player is heading towards Stamford Bridge.

It would represent good business for Leeds. It's not too long since he joined Leeds but what a servant he has been for them. Seventeen goals in the Premier League over two seasons. It's a move that suits him and Leeds were aware that this could happen this summer. They planned for this.

Marsch needs to balance defence and attack

Jesse Marsch guided Leeds to safety in his 12th game in charge after replacing Marcelo Bielsa in February
Image: Jesse Marsch guided Leeds to safety in his 12th game in charge after replacing Marcelo Bielsa in February

One of the things Marsch talked about when he took over in February was that he had to come in and hit the ground running by winning pressure games. Now, he has a bit of time to implement his ideas and the side will evolve from Bielsa's type of style.

The players need to adjust and maybe the fans do as well. One of their criticisms of Bielsa was they were too attacking and open. Then, towards the end of last season, they were better defensively but not creating as many chances.

The biggest challenge facing Marsch is striking the balance between attack and defence. He needs the right players to come in that he wants, in the right positions, and to have time to implement his ideas on the group.

Leeds' first set of fixtures are Wolves, Southampton, Chelsea, Brighton, Everton, Brentford, Forest. Take the Chelsea game out and all of those matches are ones Leeds need to win or pick up points in. They can hit the ground running but the challenge is to get the new players in and settle quickly.

It could be a big positive if they get the players in and get the wins on the board. The flip side is, if they take time to settle, then you're through that group of fixtures and the next lot are going to be more difficult.

Bamford for England?

Marsch came in at a time when the likes of Phillips, Patrick Bamford and Liam Cooper were injured and players were low on confidence. The injuries went right through the spine of the team and Bielsa liked a small squad so there wasn't loads of back-up.

Statistically, with Phillips and Cooper in the side, Leeds were a lot better than when they weren't. If they can get the right players in now, like another quality striker, if Bamford were to get injured next season, for example, then they have a few more options.

Leeds United's Patrick Bamford receives treatment before going off injured during the Premier League match at Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton.
Image: Leeds United's Patrick Bamford receives treatment before going off injured during the Premier League match at Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton

Towards the end of last season against Chelsea, I was sat on the TV gantry watching the game next to Bamford, who was unable to influence what was happening on the pitch. He might have been wondering if he was going to get another chance to play in the Premier League for Leeds.

It's massive for players like him to stay in the division and probably at the back of his mind he's thinking, 'I need to hit the ground running' because, don't forget, he was in the England squad. It's only injuries that have put him out of it. If he starts the season well, then who knows...

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 10 and closes at 11pm on September 1?

Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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