Nottingham Forest have been revealed to have bizarrely targeted Kalvin Phillips and Stuart Dallas for transfer after Leeds United’s play-off failure in 2019.
The Whites were knocked out of the Championship play-offs by Derby County in 2019, falling short after a promising first season under Marcelo Bielsa saw them challenging for promotion.
Their failure to go up prompted interest from the Premier League in some key players, with eventual play-off winners Aston Villa launching a bid to sign Phillips.
Yet their offer of £25m was not enough to persuade the Whites to part with the homegrown midfielder, who eventually played a key role in helping the side to promotion last season.
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The Athletic have now reported that both Phillips and teammate Stuart Dallas were both on Forest’s lists of potential targets that summer.
Forest had missed out on the play-offs in 2018/19, finishing eight points off sixth-placed Derby in ninth.
They were 17 points off third-placed Leeds United, winning eight games fewer than Bielsa’s side.
Forest appeared to be a club in a transition period that summer, having just parted company with Martin O’Neill after just six months in charge at the City Ground.
Nevertheless, they appear to have been confident of landing two key players from a team that finished above them in the table.
Leeds United have suffered another early and embarrassing FA Cup exit after slumping to a 3-0 defeat at Crawley Town.
Next up for the well-beaten Whites is a return to Premier League action when they host Brighton at the weekend.
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Both Phillips and Dallas are said to have been on a 70-man shortlist of players that could be targeted for a transfer that summer.
Other unlikely targets on Forest’s list included Reece James at Chelsea and Juventus’ Stephy Mavididi.
Whilst Forest never officially launched bids for Phillips and Dallas, their apparent belief that the duo may have been available for transfer is strange.
Leeds resisted Villa’s interest in Phillips, with director of football Victor Orta resolving against selling the midfielder after the player hesitated over whether he would be interested in a move to the newly-promoted club.
Northern Ireland international Dallas, meanwhile, missed just one Championship game last season as he helped the Whites back to the Premier League.