The loss of Pontus Jansson this summer was a big deal for Leeds United fans, but Victor Orta and Marcelo Bielsa knew what they were doing. Ben White had already been brought in as his replacement, a player who Orta had been tracking since he spotted him when Leeds played Newport in the FA Cup two years ago. Composed on the ball, plays it out from the back, as robust a centre half you'll find, he if perfect to play in Marcelo Bielsa's system. Despite this there were concerns that White had only played League One and Two football before, concerns quickly alleviated by White as he put in great performance after great performance. The best centre half at the club since Radebe and Ferdinand? His performances certainly justify the claim.
Brighton have been so impressed with his performances and are “staggered” by his development under Marcelo Bielsa. So much so that the Seagulls now value White at more than £20million and are looking forward to welcoming him into their senior squad when his loan spell finishes. But they are not the only ones impressed by the young defenders progress. Liverpool scouts have been “blown away” by his development and are now considering him as a potential replacement for Dejan Lovren who was strongly linked with a move away from Anfield over the summer.
Leeds fans should not be unduly concerned though, although White has a recall clause in his loan contract we should not expect him to depart in January. Speaking to the Talking Shutt podcast, Angus Kinnear explained the details of recall clauses in both Ben White and Eddie Nketiah contracts...
It's fairly standard in these contracts to have January recalls but the decision is based on how well the loan's going so if the players are playing, and they're playing well, and they're enjoying their football and they're developing, which I think we can evidence in both Ben and Eddie's case, then you'd be fairly confident that they recall wouldn't be activated by the parent club.
With Brighton so impressed by Ben White’s progress they will be keen for him to continue his development under Marcelo Bielsa and return to the Amex next summer a much-improved player with a serious price tag on his head. Brighton certainly see White as a player with the pedigree and potential to thrive in the Premier League and on the evidence seen so far this season he can definitely make the step up. Brighton paid £22 million for Adam Webster this summer, hence White being surplus to requirements, but he would certainly be pushing for a first team place next season based on his current performances.
Leeds failed to negotiate a loan to buy clause in White’s loan deal, despite trying, but may have hoped to negotiate a deal next summer if promotion was achieved. With Brighton so impressed with Whites development and Premiership big boys such as Liverpool sniffing round it will be very difficult for Leeds to keep hold of White next season.