Nat Phillips enjoyed a fine season with the Cherries in the Championship, helping Scott Parker’s side to promotion – with reports that the defender could be on the move again this summer
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Liverpool are weighing up the possibility of allowing defender Nat Phillips to return to Bournemouth on loan next season.
The Reds were ready to cash in on the 25-year-old centre-back after he helped the Cherries win promotion back to the Premier League during a successful six-month stint with the south-coast club.
But Phillips’ impressive form has prompted a rethink at Anfield – and there is a belief that he could develop into a long-term replacement for Joel Matip. Bolton-born Phillips signed a four-year contract with the Reds last summer after impressing Jurgen Klopp during the injury crisis that sidelined Virgil van Dijk, Matip and Joe Gomez.
He was allowed to go on loan to Bournemouth last January following the trio’s return to action and the arrival of Ibrahima Konate. Phillips has settled both on and off the pitch at the Vitality Stadium.
And Liverpool are now considering the option of allowing him to return for a season in the top-flight in a deal which would see Bournemouth pay a loan fee.
Speaking about his time on the south coast with Scott Parker, the defender said: “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve said from the start when people have asked me about it, he’s very detailed and meticulous in the way that he plans games.
“The way that he sets his teams and the way that he approaches games are very clear in terms of the instructions that he gives us. Also, in the messages that he wants to deliver us and in the sessions that he puts on as well; they very much align with what we wanted to achieve.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and also the other side of the game, the more emotional aspect and that side of things, I feel like he’s good at tapping into that side of stuff. So, it’s been a pleasure to work under him.”
Jurgen Klopp paid tribute to Phillips prior to last month’s Champions League final, after his makeshift partnership with Rhys Williams helped them achieve a top-four finish against the odds in 2020/21.
“I messaged Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips because we wouldn’t be there without them,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “I remember the final game of last season and they left the pitch with a bandage around the head, cuts on their faces, and that was really a symbol for the whole period. We went through on one leg, with one eye… it was incredible. It was such a tough season.”
He added: “Hopefully nobody forgot how hard we fought to get here. We felt it mentally. The public wasn’t shy of telling us that we underperformed and all these kind of things.
“You try to understand, you think, ‘Wait a minute, we’re facing teams in the strongest league in the world having played for the majority of the time without our full defence.’ We had no centre-halves, had to play midfielders in the last line, then had to use other players in midfield and nothing worked really.
“In the end, we played with two incredible players – Rhys and Nat – but we couldn’t use them earlier because they needed time to adapt. So, yes, there was a bit of a point to prove and I’m really happy that the boys did that.”