Noel Whelan hailed Kalvin Phillips as Leeds United’s “unsung hero” whose value has now multiplied to around the £12million mark following an outstanding campaign.

The central midfielder has been transformed by the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road and has emerged as one of the best players outside of the Premier League.

The United academy product and lifelong fan of the club was recently named in the Championship team of the season and continued his excellent form with another fine display in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, ex-Leeds striker Whelan explained why Phillips is such a vital figure in Leeds’ automatic promotion pursuit.

“I love him,” Whelan said. “For such a young boy, he has a great head on his shoulders. He’s a Leeds lad and there is a lot of pressure on him to perform.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“He has just been the most integral player to the way we play this season. He’s our unsung hero. Without him, you don’t get the game up front.

“For the way he has played, in defensive midfield and dropping into defence, he is the player of the year, for me. You are probably looking at a player worth £12million, given his age and the position he plays in.”

Phillips, 23, is out of contract at Leeds in the summer of 2021 and is likely to attract interest from Premier League clubs if the team fail to secure a top-two finish.

He has made 39 league starts among 41 appearances for United this season, two-thirds of which have been in defensive midfield and the other third at centre-back.

In other Leeds United news, the club are closing in on a JAWDROPPING £177million windfall after developments this week.