Following his summer loan move to Leeds United in July 2019, Ben White has become the latest in a long line of players to have made a name for themselves in the Championship. The 21-year-old defender is seemingly in the long-term plans of Graham Potter, the manager of his parent club, Brighton and Hove Albion, after an impressive stint in West Yorkshire. So, let’s analyse White’s performances throughout the 2019-20 season.
Building from the Back
There can be no doubt that the defender’s best position is at the heart of the defence. Crucially, his ability to adequately use both his left and right foot ensures that he can comfortably play on either side of back four. Moreover, because of his confidence when in possession, Marcelo Bielsa has opted to deploy White in a defensive midfielder role on three separate occasions over the course of the season, according to Transfermarkt.
Like many modern-day centre-backs, this is a testament to the Poole-born player’s reading of the game and passing range. Because of the Leeds manager’s preferred style, the Peacocks often find themselves dominating possession, thus resulting in opposition sides dropping into a compact defensive system. In turn, this frequently requires the Whites’ defenders to force the issue from deep, either through driving into midfield or by spraying a long, searching ball into offensive areas.
Importantly, White has this much-needed creativity in his locker. During Leeds’ 2-1 victory against Luton Town back in November, the 21-year-old drove the Peacocks forward from his own half, before sliding Bamford through to score the opening goal. Not only does this showcase his bravery, but it’s a prime example of his decision-making abilities.
Integral to Bielsa’s Tactical System
In the world of football, Bielsa is held in high regard by many well-known managers, including Mauricio Pochettino, who cites the Argentine’s homework as an influential factor in his success. This is a belief that is mirrored by numerous footballers, including White. The on-loan Brighton player suggests that his flourishing performances at Elland Road are down to the confidence that Bielsa instills in his squad.
Furthermore, as per a report by FootballWhispers, White has more to his game than providing Leeds with defensive solidity. Standing at six-foot-one, the Peacocks loanee is more than capable of competing aerially. The article states that, at the time it was written, White had won over 50 percent of his aerial duels.
Moreover, when Leeds are caught on the break, the 21-year-old possesses the pace and positional awareness required to ensure that the three-time English league title winners aren’t vulnerable on the counter. Importantly, this allows Bielsa to push his full-backs further up the field due to his confidence in the recovery side of White’s game.
Moreover, the Poole-born player’s press resistance has been pivotal in Leeds’ pursuit of gaining promotion to the Premier League. As of July 1st, the Whites lead the charge to win the second tier, with their nearest rivals, West Brom, being priced at 5/2 with Championship betting to secure the title come the end of the season.
A Top-Flight Talent in the Making
If reports are to be believed, then the newly crowned champions of England, Liverpool, are keen on recruiting White in the upcoming summer transfer window. It’s hardly surprising that the on-loan defender has peaked interests, with his forward-thinking playstyle being highly sought after by Premier League clubs.