Liverpool were in contact with Championship side Reading towards the end of the January transfer window, but knocked back “a couple” of loan bids for their players.
It was a busy deadline day for Julian Ward, the Reds’ deputy sporting director, as he took the lead in negotiations ahead of his promotion to the leading role in the summer.
Phillips and Williams ultimately left for loans in the Championship, with it something of a surprise that no others were to follow from the academy.
In fact, it seems as though Reading were hoping to bring in at least one player from Liverpool’s youth ranks, with manager Veljko Paunovic revealing two failed bids.
“We tried a couple of loans with Liverpool, with Stoke,” he told BerkshireLive.
“We’ve been very creative and active but this was the best we could do.”
One player confirmed to have been on Reading’s radar was Rhys Williams, who was recalled from an unsuccessful loan spell with Swansea mid-season, but he remains on Merseyside following Phillips’ exit.
However, there are a handful of others who could have come into contention for Championship sides, too, chief among those midfielder Leighton Clarkson.
Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Tom Clayton and even Billy Koumetio could have also been in the frame for loan deals, with Dixon-Bonner in particular touted with a move away.
But ultimately, they remained on Merseyside, with Reading frustratedly turning to the free agent market for new additions.
Reading did make one acquisition on deadline day, however, with ex-Liverpool forward Tom Ince arriving on loan from Stoke.
Whether they will attempt more business with the Reds in the summer transfer window remains to be seen, though the dialogue is likely to remain open with Ward.