How did Manchester City manage to sign Kalvin Phillips, a highly-rated England international, for just £42 million, plus another three in add-ons?
It was nearly the perfect City transfer — “nearly” because, these days, they often look for players with buy-out clauses and for a while had intended to trigger the one in Phillips’ contract. Had Leeds been relegated last season, as had looked a distinct possibility in its final weeks, the 26-year-old would have been available in this window for £24 million.
Leeds stayed up on the final day to complicate matters slightly, but not by much.
With the clause out of the way, Leeds could, in theory, have charged whatever they had wanted for Phillips, one of their star players and a homegrown hero.
But champions City were still in the kind of position they strive to be in with every summer transfer. They had known since the end of May that Phillips wanted to join them and nobody else.
Manchester United had explored the possibility earlier in the year, but it was a non-starter, largely because of the politics involved in a Leeds favourite moving to Old Trafford, historically a very difficult path to tread.