Why Ben White is on Premier League clubs' radars?
Background image: John Seb Barber, CC BY-SA 2.0.
A certain, somewhat unheard of name keeps popping up in the transfer columns this month. Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are linked with a 22-year-old centre-back, Ben White. On loan from Brighton & Hove Albion, White is enjoying ample success for Championship side Leeds United.
White joined Brighton in 2016 on a free transfer from Southampton. The Englishman made his professional debut that same season at the tender age of 18. Loan spells to Newport County and Peterborough United proved his metal before going back to Championship football under the master tactician Marcelo Bielsa.
In what is often referred to as the most competitive division within the sport, White was named as the Championship's best young player by Sky Sports just before the turn of the year. At the time, Leeds United had conceded just fifteen goals in twenty-three outings; an impeccable record.
Operating alongside Liam Cooper at the heart of defence, White is extremely adept when it comes to positional awareness. Being in the perfect spot on the pitch gives White an immediate edge when trying to regain possession for his team, at which he's brilliant, winning roughly nine defensive duels per 90-minutes at an excellent 74% success rate.
Factor in White's unwavering concentration and inch-perfect skills when it comes to intercepting the ball and it's easy to forget that this talented up-and-comer is still so young. White leads the division when it comes to interceptions with 70 - seven more than any other player.
Bielsa’s style is possession-based. The Argentine instructs his defenders to not release the ball as soon as they receive it and keep rotating it amongst them in order to attract the press from the opposition. In turn, this creates space further afield, with White being calm, cool and confident enough to play out from the back.
He's actually a baller. Solid defender, brilliant on the ball. Let's not forget that some of the very best players itl have come up from the championship.
White is hitting all the marks on the checklist, right? We're talking about someone who can go right to the top in this game. However, the player must choose his next career-move wisely. Regular football should be his number one concern - which is something he probably wouldn't achieve upon his return to Brighton.
Seagulls manager Graham Potter has a brilliant set of centre-backs at his disposal. Shane Duffy, Dan Burn, Adam Webster, and Lewis Dunk are all established and you'd imagine White may find it tough to force his way in.
Arsenal, one of the interested clubs, have got their hands full with Pablo Mari and William Saliba arriving next season. A few in the current batch, including Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz and Rob Holding might leave. However, I'm still not sure how White would achieve 30+ appearances in North London.
Premier League champions Liverpool have a successful partnership developing between Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk. Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip provide cover. Tottenham Hotspur follows suit. Davinson Sanchez, Japhet Tanganga, Jan Vertognhen and Toby Alderweireld would all be ahead of White in the pecking order.
None of the aforementioned teams really need White, that has been made clear. The wildcard option is Leeds. If The Peacocks can finally force their way back into the Premier League, why not stay at Elland Road? Failing that, the budding defender should look at clubs like Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers; two teams who'd complement his skill-set while also being ready to hand him regular minutes...