Leeds struck gold with £12m star who’d be more valuable than Phillips today


Leeds United were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2022/23 campaign after a respectable three-year stint in the top-flight of English football.

Their relegation from the division came just under one year after they opted to cash in on two of their star assets in the summer of 2022 under Jesse Marsch.

Marcelo Bielsa left Elland Road midway through the 2021/22 season, and sporting director Victor Orta took advantage of Kalvin Phillips‘ and Raphinha‘s market values to raise funds for new signings, who ultimately failed to keep the team in the league.

Per Transfermarkt, those two sales are currently the most expensive departures from Leeds in the club’s history. Sky Sports reported that Barcelona paid a whopping £55m for the Brazil international, whilst Manchester City agreed a £45m deal for the English maestro.


However, if you adjust for the inflation of transfer fees in football over the years, there have been sales that were worth more to the club at the time.

Jonathan Woodgate is one excellent example of this as his exit from Elland Road in 2003 was worth more than Phillips’ move to The Etihad in 2024 money.

Jonathan Woodgate’s Leeds career in numbers

The central defender came up through the youth ranks in Yorkshire, after a move from Middlesbrough as a teenager, before his breakthrough at first-team level in the 1990s, which meant that the club did not have to pay a penny in transfer fees for him.

Therefore, Woodgate cost £0 and went on to emerge as a regular in the senior side after his debut against Nottingham Forest in the Premier League in October 1998.

He ended the 1998/99 campaign with 31 first-team appearances under his belt in all competitions, with 25 of those coming in the top-flight and one in the UEFA Cup.

His superb form at the heart of the Whites defence led to an England debut against Bulgaria in the summer of 1999, which shows how highly-rated he was after just one season of professional football.


The following season, the impressive centre-back racked up 49 games for Leeds and chipped in with one goal and two assists, including two assists in ten UEFA Cup outings.

Unfortunately, injury issues then disrupted his development as he only made 27 Premier League appearances across the next two seasons combined at Elland Road.

Woodgate finally enjoyed a consistent run of matches, with 18 outings in the top-flight, during the first half of the 2002/03 campaign for Leeds, but that sparked interest from elsewhere as Newcastle United swooped in to secure his services in January of that season.

How much Woodgate’s move to Newcastle would be worth in 2024

Per Totally Money, the Magpies splashed out a fee of £12.15m to sign the England international from the Yorkshire-based outfit at the start of 2003.

As per their index, which adjusts for the inflation of transfer fees over the subsequent years, that transfer would be worth a staggering £46.5m in 2024 – £1.5m more than Phillips’ move to City in 2022.

This illustrates how valuable the sale was to Leeds at the time of the move, as they raked in a significant sum of money from Newcastle given that it was back in January 2003.


Woodgate made 37 appearances for the Magpies in just 18 months at St. James’ Park before an eye-catching move to Spanish giants Real Madrid in the summer of 2004.

Per Totally Money, the LaLiga side spent £16.4m – £59m in today’s money – to sign him from the Toon Army. However, that move turned out to be a nightmare for the English defender, as he made 14 appearances in three years in Spain.

The central defender then had spells with Middlesbrough, Tottenham Hotspur, and Stoke, before the end of his playing days, in what turned out to be a career riddled with injury woes.

Jonathan Woodgate’s Tottenham injury history


Days out

Games missed

























Via Transfemarkt

As you can see in the table above, his time at Spurs, in particular, was disrupted by consistent absences through various issues with his groin, back, and calf.

Ultimately, Leeds should look back on their decision to sell Woodgate when they did as a success as they struck gold with the money that they received for him, relative to the time, given that it would have been worth more than Phillips’ transfer in 2024 money.

Kalvin Phillips’ post-Leeds struggles

After 234 appearances for Leeds in all competitions, having also come up through the academy system at Thorp Arch, the defensive midfielder earned his big move to Manchester City ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

Unfortunately, the England international only played 21 matches in all competitions for the Cityzens throughout that season as Pep Guardiola preferred the likes of Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan, and Bernardo Silva ahead of him in the middle of the park.


Phillips was then handed a further ten appearances during the first half of the current campaign before being sent out on loan to West Ham United for the second half of the campaign.

In six Premier League matches for the Hammers so far, the 28-year-old flop has already made one error that directly led to a goal – with a backpass that Dominic Solanke scored from for Bournemouth – and been sent off – with two bookable offences against Nottingham Forest.

Kalvin Phillips

Vs Burnley (10/03/2024)

Minutes played


Key passes


Dribbles completed


Tackles + interceptions


Duels won


Stats via Sofascore

As you can see in the table above, Phillips was substituted at half-time by David Moyes in his most recent start for the Hammers in the top-flight, against relegation-threatened Burnley.

The English dud failed to stamp his mark on the game offensively or defensively in another sluggish showing, which led to him being an unused substitute in their next league clash with Aston Villa.

His poor form since moving on from Elland Road suggests that, like with Woodgate, Leeds hit the jackpot when they decided to sell him to City for £45m back in the summer of 2022.

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