In what was one of the toughest spells for Jurgen Klopp as manager of the Reds, he saw his side ravaged by injuries in late 2020.
Centre-back reinforcements in particular dwindled out, forcing him to dip into the January market and promote players from the academy, who many thought would have no future at the club.
One of those players was Nathaniel Phillips, who made his Premier League debut in 2020 and has since deputised in the Champions League, earning particular plaudits for his man-of-the-match performance against RB Leipzig.
Klopp has often been vocal in his praise for the colossus, dubbing him “a monster in the air” after he made his full league debut.
Now 25 years old and no longer a youngster, the Bolton-born defender was seeking more playing time as Virgil van Dijk naturally commanded a starting spot and new signing Ibrahima Konate had hit the ground running. He was in limbo.
That was until promotion-chasing Bournemouth decided to take a chance on the stopper, approaching him in January of 2022 to sure up their defence as they prepared for the run-in.
Phillips, who earns a reported £64k-per-week at Anfield, featured in all but one of the Cherries’ final 17 league matches and was imperative in their second-place finish and automatic promotion back to England’s top flight.
In their final three games of the season, particularly the all-important win at home to Nottingham Forest, Phillips masterminded clean sheets in all of them.
His average SofaScore rating also sits at a fine 7.04, outlining his consistency at a very high level, in a very challenging league.
Scott Parker was unsurprisingly delighted with how their £7.2m-rated deadline day signing had fared, labelling him an “extremely bright lad” and a “very good professional”.
Perhaps with Joel Matip reaching the twilight of his career, who occupies the current role of first reserve centre-back for Klopp, Phillips could now return to Anfield with eyes on that position and maybe even that of Konate’s if he can continue to find consistency and quality.
In other news, Left for £49m, now a 4x title winner: Liverpool made a mistake with “world-class” gem.