EXCLUSIVE By Wayne Veysey

Kalvin Phillips has rejected an opening Leeds United contract offer, Football Insider can reveal.

The club are keen to keep hold of their star midfielder, 23, and tie him to an improved deal amid strong interest from Premier League clubs led by Aston Villa.

United have held initial talks with Phillips over a new contract but a Leeds source has told Football Insider that the offer on the table from the club is a long way off what he is seeking.

The Championship big hitters have made it clear in conversations with Phillips they want to keep him and Marcelo Bielsa regards the academy product as a key part of his plans for next season.

But the source explained the two parties are some way off an agreement, which is a major concern ahead of the new season and with over a month of the transfer window remaining.

Football Insider revealed last month that Leeds have knocked back an approach already for Phillips from Villa, while there is also interest from Wolves and Bournemouth.

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.

The midfielder is seeking a deal that reflects his status in a team where the top earners are Patrick Bamford and Kiko Casilla on contracts worth £30,000-a-week or more.

Phillips was named in the official Football League team of the year for his performances last season, when he was transformed into a midfield anchorman by Bielsa.

His current contract expires in the summer of 2021.

In the latest Leeds United news, the club’s firesale has reached a whole new level as it can be REVEALED that a £6million-valued Elland Road ace has been given just a few days to find a new club.