Aston Villa: Gerrard now 'optimistic' of signing £60m star at Villa Park

Aston Villa head coach Steven Gerrard acknowledging the fans

Aston Villa head coach Steven Gerrard has ‘fresh optimism’ over his hopes of luring Kalvin Phillips to Villa Park and he could look to complete an ‘early’ deal with Leeds United, according to transfer insider Dean Jones.

Gerrard was appointed as the Midlands side’s boss last November and, ahead of his first full campaign at the helm, has Phillips in his sights.

What’s the latest news involving Phillips?

Villa and Newcastle United are reportedly leading the race to sign Phillips when the transfer window reopens next month.

It is clear that Gerrard is willing to spend a sizeable chunk of his budget on tempting the 26-year-old to Villa Park as it is understood the Midlanders are ready to pay £60million and offer a contract worth £10million-per-year.

Parting with that figure would result in Phillips comfortably becoming the most expensive signing in the club’s entire history.

However, there is additional competition from West Ham United, with Hammers boss David Moyes wanting to reunite the central midfielder with England team-mate Declan Rice, and Manchester United.

West Ham have been long-term admirers of Phillips and had a £50million bid turned down by Leeds in January.

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What has Dean Jones said about Phillips?

Jones believes Gerrard may look to beat Phillips’ other suitors to the punch by heading into negotiations quickly.

The transfer insider feels there is a strong possibility that the 19-cap England international will be in a Villa shirt by the time next season gets underway.

Jones told GIVEMESPORT: “I think that Gerrard will have fresh optimism about the chances of signing him.

“I do see this as a realistic one. He knows there’s going to be competition to sign Kalvin Phillips, but there’s no reason why Aston Villa shouldn’t be in a prime position to actually land him.

“I think that’s one that they’ll really look to pursue early on in the window.”

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Why is Gerrard optimistic that he can get a deal over the line?

A lot could depend on whether Leeds are relegated to the Championship and that remains a distinct possibility heading into the final weekend of the campaign.

Although Phillips’ £38,000-per-week contract is not due to expire until the summer of 2024, his current employers’ drop into the second tier would play into Villa’s hands.

That is because it has emerged that Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani has written a release clause into Phillips’ contract and it can only be activated if they fall out of the Premier League, meaning he could be available for far less than the £60million Gerrard was originally willing to offer.

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