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Opinion: Liverpool Should Let Nat Phillips Take the Next Step

Rumours surrounding the departure of Nat Phillips are cropping up more frequently than ever before. The most recent story suggests Liverpool have informed West Ham United they will have to meet the Reds' £15million valuation of the defender to take him to the East End. Is it time to say goodbye?

In 2016, a late change of heart over a footballing scholarship in the United States brought the young defender to Anfield. 

Before the injury-ridden 20/21 season, few fans knew Nat's name. A year later, everyone does. 

The 24-year-old heroically broke into the first team during the 20/21 season, plugging gaps left by the long-term injuries of Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez. 

Phillips was handed a massive pair of boots to fill by manager Jurgen Klopp. 

The prospect's first 17 Premier League appearances came that season, with an average of 2.24 points per game (ppg) according to Transfermarkt

For context, Joel Matip has so far made 16 appearances in 21/22, averaging 2.13 ppg. The young centre-back stepped up. 

Phillips and Rhys Williams, just 19-years-old at the time, formed a robust partnership and helped keep the Reds in the fight for Champions league football. 

The pair have since become cult legends on Merseyside and their contributions will not be forgotten. 

Nat Phillips makes a headed clearance against Everton's Richardson.

Nat Phillips makes a passionate headed clearance against Everton's Richarlison in the Merseyside derby.

For £15million, is it time Nat moved on?

Personally, I believe so. Not because of the money. Not because the defender lacks ability. But because I believe it's best for Phillips' career. 

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The recent signing of Ibrahima Konate, the return of Van Dijk and Gomez, alongside Matip's unbelievable form, all push Nat down the pecking order. 

At 24, development is key and to develop you need to be playing football. For Phillips, this must be at Premier League level. 

Currently, the Hammers have a solid centre-back rotation of Craig Dawson, Kurt Zouma, and Angelo Ogbonna. 

Dawson is ageing , at 31-years-old, and Zouma's career has been plagued by injuries. 

According to Transfermarkt, the Frenchman has missed 46 games since the 15/16 season and spent over a month on the sidelines last season.

West Ham clearly have space for Phillips and, for me, it is a move that will help him further his career. If not, I'm sure a host of other PL clubs will be in for the player given the reasonable price set by the Reds. 

Jurgen Klopp has repeatedly expressed his admiration for the centre-half and no doubt wants the best for the cult hero. 

Liverpool should look to repay the Bolton boy for his integral contributions by allowing him to get out on the pitch and play football, wherever that may be.

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