Chelsea will be desperate not to repeat the Antonio Rudiger contract situation again with Mateo Kovacic.
However, Phillips believes that the 28-year-old has not committed to staying at Stamford Bridge beyond his current deal, leaving his options open.
“I expect him to enter talks with Chelsea at least, but he will have a big decision to make as he ponders a potential new challenge elsewhere. He’s enjoying it at Chelsea, though, so the club will be confident of still getting something done,” he told GIVEMESPORT.
The German colossus was very popular in West London, playing 54 times in all competitions last season for the Blues, his depart saw owner Todd Boehly splash approximately £165.5m on three defenders in the summer window, money that could’ve been spent elsewhere transforming Chelsea into potential title contenders but as it stands they’re sixth, only two points above rivals and newly-promoted Fulham.
Blues loyal will be hoping lightning doesn’t strike twice with the four-time Champions League winner playing 198 games for the Blues and registering 19 goals and assists, it would be a huge loss in experience as well as how he fits into the setup now.
He’s pivotal in how Potter looks to apply his possession-based style, with the technician in the top 6% of midfielders over the past year for passes attempted with 72.56 per 90 and in the top 2% for progressive passes with 6.64 per 90, he works in tandem perfectly with Jorginho who is in the top 4% of passes attempted but ranks lower in the progressive passes metric with him in the top 7%.
“He is crucial to us on the pitch and off the pitch in the way he behaves,” claimed Kovacic’s former manager Thomas Tuchel, emphasising just how important he has been to the Blues in recent times.
Meanwhile, the Italian acts as the ideal counter-balance to his centre-midfield partner, with him sat in the top 14% of midfielders for tackles and interceptions with 2.74 and 1.56 per 90 respectively, Kovacic ranks considerably lower because he is freed up to play a more creative role, making 3.52 shot-creating actions per 90 – which is in the top 19% of midfielders.
Seeing Kovacic – who BBC contributor Premier League Panel once dubbed a “ball progression machine” – leave could see an identical effect to Rudiger’s departure from the Bridge.
Funds have been needlessly spent on replacements who would’ve been key players had their contracts not been allowed to run out, it would also break a long-standing partnership that would need to be rebuilt in midfield, with the Brazilian-born Jorginho featuring 204 times for the Blues meaning the central-midfield pair have racked up 402 Chelsea appearances between them.