Molineux transfer news: Wolves 'shopping higher' than star Klopp relied on last season

Bruno Lage Wolves manager

Express and Star journalist Luke Hatfield insists that Wolves will be aiming higher than Nat Phillips if they attempt to sign a central defender in the January transfer window. 

The Liverpool centre-back has been heavily linked with a move away from Anfield in recent weeks, with West Ham United said to be among his suitors after he impressed throughout last season amid the club’s injury crisis. 

What’s the latest with Phillips? 

Phillips has naturally fallen down the pecking order at Liverpool this season, having been thrust into the first-team last term. 

Indeed, with injuries ruling out both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, Phillips was relied upon by Reds boss Jurgen Klopp to provide cover in the backline at Anfield. 

The central defender made a total of 20 appearances in all competitions last season, scoring once, and even playing 90 minutes in both legs of the Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid. 

This season, though, with both Van Dijk and Gomez back fit, Phillips has been limited to just three senior appearances; he did play in the Champions League dead rubber against AC Milan but injured his cheekbone during the game and is now out until the New Year. 

He has also been linked with the Hammers, as they look to sign cover for Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna, with both defenders currently out injured. 

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What has Hatfield said about Phillips? 

Hatfield has previously told GiveMeSport that Wolves boss Bruno Lage is keen to sign a central defender in January but he has his doubts over whether he would sanction a move for Phillips.

Asked about him, he replied: “Nat Phillips. I think Wolves might be looking a little bit higher than him. No disrespect to him, obviously, he’s someone who’s featured for Liverpool when they were really struggling with injury in that position.

“But I think they’d be looking at someone with a bit more experience and quality. Not to say that he hasn’t got quality, but I think Wolves might just shopping a bit higher than him.”

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Would Phillips fit in at Wolves?

Phillips is a reliable operator in the backline, as he proved last season, when Klopp was forced to rely on him because of the injury crisis that engulfed the Reds.

Per fbref, he is similar in profile to Harry Maguire at Manchester United, as he looks to defend on the front foot and also distribute the ball well. 

The stats website reports that over the last year, Phillips is in the top 20% for defenders in Europe for the following statistics: progressive passes, touches in the attacking penalty area, and pressures. 

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He is also in the top 1% for both clearances and aerials won, meaning he can dominate both on the floor and in the air. 

The interest from West Ham would, naturally, complicate any pursuit but Phillips, statistically, would fit right into that Wolves defence. 

Maybe they ought to rethink their pursuit, especially when the Standard reports that he could be available for as little as £10m. 

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