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Leeds identify Kalvin Phillips replacement as Spurs and Villa lead transfer chase

LEEDS are starting to realise keeping hold of Kalvin Phillips may be out of their control as they pinpoint replacements amid interest from Tottenham and Aston Villa.

Leeds are looking to bounce back from the disappointment of their play-off defeat last year to mount a serious title challenge in the Championship.

Marcelo Bielsa is hanging around for at least another year to finally get the Whites into the Premier League after a 15-year absence.

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However, he must contend with a number of clubs circling around his top stars – principally midfielder Phillips.

The 23-year-old has struck up a close bond with the Leeds fans after growing up with the club and coming through the academy.

Along the way, he has developed into a key player but has attracted the attention of Aston Villa.

The Birmingham-based side were the eventual winners of the play-offs last season, beating Derby in the final.

And Dean Smith has made Phillips a top priority, though United slapped a huge price-tag on him to ward them off.

But Tottenham have now become embroiled in the transfer chase and look to blow Villa out of the water with a £30m bid.

Leeds would be extremely reluctant to lose one of their top stars but cannot turn their noses up to such a mammoth offer.

It has led the Elland Road outfit to look for alternatives, with the Daily Mail reporting that Ivan Sunjic is on their radar.

The Croatia Under-21 captain would cost peanuts compared to Phillips but are facing a fight with Birmingham for his signature.

The 22-year-old is one of the rising stars with the Balkan nation and his style of play has been somewhat compared to Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric.

However, Leeds have not given up hope yet of keeping hold of Phillips.

The Yorkshireman has been offered a new contract from United.

But early reports indicate that he is set to turn it down with his heart set on a move to the Premier League.

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