Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has joked that ‘sexy’ Kalvin Phillips has the ‘perfect body’ after revealing the England midfielder was overweight last week.
Phillips was named on the bench for City’s 3-1 win at his former club Leeds on Wednesday night after being left out of their Carabao Cup squad in last week’s win over Liverpool.
Guardiola said after the fourth-round win: “He’s not injured. He arrived overweight (from the World Cup). He didn’t arrive in condition for training sessions and to play.”
But the Spaniard has now turned his back on the 27-year-old’s weight issues and said the midfielder could feature in his next home game against Everton on New Year’s Eve after recovering from a shoulder surgery earlier this month.
“He [Phillips] has a perfect body now – so sexy,” Guardiola said after the win at Elland Road.
“We’ll see for the weekend. He spent the first part of the season with surgery to get to the World Cup – and did everything to get to the World Cup.
“It’s not just about being in shape, it’s also about understanding what you want to do, the movements, etc.
“So that means as fast as possible because Rodri can’t play every game, so as fast as possible he will play.
“But I’m happy that yesterday, for example, Kalvin trained very well and sooner or later he will play.”
Haaland: I’m ‘hungry’ after World Cup absence
Erling Haaland said missing out on the World Cup made him “a bit crazy” and made him “hungrier” after scoring twice in the Leeds win.
The Norwegian striker has now scored 26 goals in 20 appearances for City in all competitions since leaving Dortmund this summer, including 20 in 14 appearances in the top flight.
“I was at home, I was a little angry not to play at the World Cup,” said Haaland Amazon Prime.
“Watching other people score to win games at the World Cup fires me up, motivates me and irritates me. I’m hungrier and more ready than ever.”
But Guardiola, whose side moved up to second place and closed the gap to leaders Arsenal to five points, claimed Haaland was still not at his best.
“He’s an incredible threat to us and always in the right position at the right time, really well.
“I think he’s still not at his best because of the injury, moving his huge body isn’t easy for him, but as much as he can play minutes, (he) will get better.”
Guardiola says Haaland, who joined City from Borussia Dortmund for £52.1million in June, has not fully recovered from a foot injury suffered in the Champions League goalless draw against his former club in October.
“I have the feeling he’s not at his best,” Guardiola added. “It’s a matter of time. Always an incredible threat to the opponent.
“Of course we are delighted, but this little (little more) pace he had at the start of the season, he struggles a bit.
“I’m still more than satisfied, but the first part of the season he was sharper. He is improving, incredible professional. He takes care of his body and his mind. »
Guardiola: Grealish must block negative thoughts
City lost their last league game before the World Cup break against Brentford but dominated from the start in West Yorkshire, with Haaland wasting no time to have a first-time attempt seeing his efforts to start the ball into the net well saved after just 36 seconds.
Against the team where they conceded 11 goals in two league games last season, Leeds stayed up against it as Haaland was given another golden chance to break the deadlock, but again failed. could beat Meslier.
The opportunities kept coming and going for City, but ultimately, with their 16th shot of the opening period alone, Rodri was on hand to stab the opener.
Alfie Haaland took 181 Premier League appearances to score 18 goals in the competition, but his son needed just 14 to overtake him, netting Grealish’s assist home six minutes into the second half to double City’s lead.
Haaland then broke the record for most games needed to reach the 20 mark by converting another pass from Grealish to make it three, reaching the milestone in seven games less than previous record holder Kevin Phillips.
Grealish was guilty of missing a few golden chances, and Guardiola said: “He got two assists but of course he has to score goals. The chances are there and it’s about the mentality. We We’ve seen him in training sessions he has the ability to put the ball in the net. He’s not a striker but he has the ability to do that. He can’t have negativity in his mind.”
Marsch: We are making progress
Leeds boss Jesse Marsch spent time in charge of Haaland during his tenure in charge of RB Salzburg and saw the 22-year-old grow into one of the best strikers in the world.
Marsch said: “I’m just very happy for him. In some ways, watching him score is painful. I want it in a different kit.
“But when you know some of these young men and see their qualities as people, you just want them to look their best – but not against you.
“But, my God, I’m happy for him. He’s a great person and I’m really happy for him.
Leeds remain 15th in the table, two points above the relegation zone with a game less than most of their rivals, following their eighth league defeat of the season, all of which have come in their last 12 matches.
Marsch, whose side play Newcastle in three days, added: “They (City) had three that day so to say it was brilliant isn’t accurate, but you know when you play at these games, the opponents are so good. .
“But we are making progress and we have to stay focused on our process.”
Manchester City host Everton on New Year’s Eve in a 3pm kick-off, when Leeds take on Newcastle at St James’ Park.