Phillips left boyhood club Leeds for £42m plus add-ons to join City in July 2022 after excelling for the Whites and making particularly giant strides under ex-boss Marcelo Bielsa. The midfielder has since found opportunities at City hard to come by and Guardiola has revealed that talks were held with the 27-year-old over his lack of minutes but that the former Leeds star wanted to stay.
Phillips was handed a rare City start in Wednesday night’s third round Carabao Cup tie at Newcastle United, ahead of which Guardiola hailed Bielsa’s work with Phillips at Leeds that the City boss admitted he wished he could replicate himself.
"We brought Kalvin here for his quality," Guardiola told Manchester City’s website. "There are no twins in football, every player has their own personality and qualities.
"Marcelo gave Kalvin the best Kalvin in his career. I’d love to have done with Kalvin what Marcelo has done to him. It is what it is.
"We have a specific way to play and sometimes they struggle with a few things, but in the previous game he was perfect. His biggest quality is he’s always open-minded and wants to learn. This is what we will try to do."
Speaking to the BBC, Guardiola said of Phillips: “The club spoke with him because he did not have many minutes. He said, 'No, I want to stay'.”
The England international was then handed just his fifth City start in Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup tie at Newcastle in which Guardiola’s side fell to a 1-0 defeat.
"Every game you have to prove he is able to play," said Guardiola of Phillips to the MEN. "We know his qualities, he plays the national team for England so we don't have doubts. But sometimes we need a specific thing that maybe he's struggled a little bit. We're not complaining about anything with him, he's an exceptional person and of course he's a good player. I'm happy for him to play."