Kalvin Phillips says he may not have enjoyed quite so much success at Leeds United in recent years, had the club not sold his friend and fellow midfielder Ronaldo Vieira in 2018.
Having played alongside Phillips in Leeds’ academy ranks, Vieira went on to make 71 appearances in all competitions for Leeds’ senior side after making his debut for the club in 2015.
However, Vieira’s time at Elland Road would come to an end shortly after Marcelo Bielsa’s arrival at the club in the summer of 2018, when the midfielder was sold to Serie A outfit Sampdoria for a reported £7million, a deal Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani later revealed was done in order to fund other investments in the club.
Since Vieira’s departure, Phillips has emerged as one of – if not the – standout player in the Championship in his role at the heart of Leeds’ midfield, something he feels he would not have been able to do without Vieira’s exit.
Speaking to Forza Football Academy on Instagram about Vieira’s departure from Leeds, Phillips said: “I was devastated, to be fair. I was there when Ronaldo was coming up through the [under-]18s and the [under-]23s.
“He took the team by storm. For such a young kid to be able to play as well as he did, when he was here he was massive for us. He opened your eyes and you thought ‘we’ve got a very good, young player’.
“I was gutted when he left, but I still keep in touch with him. We talk on a day-to-day basis.
“I honestly believe if he’d have stayed here I wouldn’t have played as many games as I have.”
Following his departure from Leeds, Vieira has gone on to make 38 appearances in all competitions over his two season with Sampdoria, becoming a more regular feature for the club during the current campaign.
Given how Phillips has performed although the last couple of seasons, the loss of Vieira certainly hasn’t been felt as much as it could have been at Leeds, although you have to wonder how different things could have been – both for the club and Phillips himself – had that deal for Vieira not been completed.