EXCLUSIVE By Wayne Veysey

Leeds United have made it clear to Kalvin Phillips they want to keep him and tie him to an improved contract amid growing speculation he is set to join Aston Villa, Football Insider understands.

Rumours intensified yesterday on social media that the midfielder, 23, is heading to the Premier League club as they became odds-on favourites with bookmakers to sign him this window.

Football Insider revealed earlier this week that Leeds have knocked back an approach already for Phillips from Villa, who are expected to table a bid of over £13million.

A Leeds source has told Football Insider that will also be rejected by the club hierarchy, do not want to lose Phillips after giving the green light this week for another academy product, Jack Clarke, to join Tottenham.

Manager Marcelo Bielsa regards Phillips as integral to his plans for next season as Leeds look to go one better than last season’s third-place finish and secure automatic promotion.

United have held initial talks with the 23-year-old over an improved contract but an agreement is not yet in place despite positive indications from both parties.

Phillips has told friends he wants to remain at his boyhood club, where he has progressed from the youth ranks to become the club’s most valuable player, but is also keen for a deal that reflects his significance to the team.

The midfielder is aware that the likes of Patrick Bamford and Kiko Casilla are on contracts worth £30,000-a-week or more, and believes he should get pay parity with the top earners.

Phillips took his game to a new level in 2018-19 and was named in the official Football League team of the year with some outstanding performances in defensive midfield as well as at centre-back when Liam Cooper was out for nearly two months.

Villa are not the only Premier League club interested in the midfielder, with Wolves and Bournemouth also closely monitoring his situation.

In other Leeds United news, it can be REVEALED that the club are in talks to sign a Premier League player for over £2million.