It looks like this was planned all along by Liverpool, and it actually makes a lot of sense.
Nat Phillips spent the first half of the season on loan at German side Stuttgart, but returned to Liverpool in January and even started in the win over Everton in The FA Cup.
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It looked like he might even go on to become part of the squad for the rest of the season, but it turns out he’s actually due to go back to Stuttgart:
#LFC defender Nat Phillips heading back to Stuttgart on loan this week, having returned for Everton game (and to be on bench vs Spurs).
— Neil Jones (@neiljonesgoal) January 12, 2020
Germany have a winter break so it looks like Liverpool decided to recall him and use him to cover the first team for the busy schedule in January. He might have missed out on a break, but the experience should be beneficial for his development in the long term.
It will be interesting to see if clubs start to do this more often. Rules dictate that a player can usually only play for two teams in a season, but we always hear that the Premier League schedule around Christmas is particularly heavy on the players, so this would give them some useful cover for a few weeks.
He certainly didn’t look out of place against Everton, so it will be interesting to see how he fares back in Germany and if that leads to him becoming a member of Liverpool’s first team squad next season.