At 23, Brighton’s Ben White has change into one of the extremely rated younger centre-backs in England. With wonderful younger defenders so laborious to search out as of late, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool have reportedly been scouting him, and his performances over the previous 12 months have seen rumours of a £50 million transfer floor.
Having taken a couple of years to achieve the highest degree, White now seems comfy within the Premier League and can come up in opposition to one of many golf equipment monitoring him closest when he takes on Liverpool on Wednesday night time.
Here is the lowdown on the defender (who idolised former Manchester United, Leeds and England defender Rio Ferdinand) who has change into such an essential participant for Brighton.
The place has he come from?
Born in Poole, White is a product of the Southampton academy. After not making the grade there, he was picked up by Brighton at age 16. After a couple of years within the youth groups, he spent all the 2017-18 season on mortgage at Newport County in League Two, the place he confirmed indicators of issues to come back with an impressive efficiency to carry off Harry Kane in a 1-1 draw at house in opposition to Tottenham within the FA Cup fourth spherical in January 2018, though he was much less spectacular within the replay as they misplaced 2-0. He then moved up the ladder with a League One mortgage spell at Peterborough the next 12 months.
One thing of a late bloomer, his correct breakthrough got here throughout his mortgage spell at Leeds United in 2019-20. Throughout their profitable promotion marketing campaign, White did not miss a single minute within the Championship, which prompted efforts from the membership to safe his companies on a everlasting foundation with three provides, the final which was reportedly £25m.
Nonetheless, having saved an in depth eye on the participant’s improvement below Marcelo Bielsa, Brighton knew higher and properly rebuffed any curiosity. White signed a brand new four-year contract with Brighton final September and has gone from energy to energy within the Premier League. With hyperlinks to powerhouses Liverpool and Man United, the membership worth his contract at £50m to additional discourage provides.
Versatility is actually a consider why the 23-year-old is held in such excessive esteem. Throughout his spell at Leeds, Bielsa primarily performed White as a centre-back in a again 4, though he did make a couple of cameos as a holding midfielder within the Championship.
With Brighton this season, he is began to look extra continuously additional up the pitch, shielding the again three (or again 4, on the uncommon event) from a defensive midfield place. Particularly spectacular was his efficiency within the 1-0 win away at Elland Highway (sarcastically) a couple of weeks in the past, through which he delivered a mature show; choosing up free balls, intercepting potential hazard and distributing effectively.
“I’ve taken all of the information from the video games I performed in central midfield for Leeds and tried to suit it in for Brighton,” he advised The Athletic. “It is clearly a special group, completely different gamers, completely different league, however the fundamentals are the identical. It is advisable run, put stress on individuals, get individuals’s heads down and attempt to flip the ball over on your group.”
Whereas Brighton supervisor Graham Potter has lately appeared to favour White as the appropriate centre-back in his again three, he additionally possesses the attributes to simply fill in at right-back.
White provides a contented marriage between an old-school centre-half and the modern-day refined centre-back. On the one hand he is one of the keen tacklers within the Premier League and he doesn’t shrink back from the bodily dimension of the sport, whereas on the opposite he is cellular, fast at altering path and transferring across the pitch, calm in possession and a measured passer of the ball (the latter two qualities being helpful in escaping urgent from opposing forwards).
Added to that he is aggressive, repeatedly wins the ball excessive up the pitch (compulsory in a Bielsa group and one more reason why the Argentinian boss values him) and is assured sufficient to convey the ball out of defence, typically dashing previous a few opponents earlier than releasing it.
White additionally performs with a excessive degree of focus; he not often “switches off,” which is backed up by his penchant for spectacular objective line clearances.
He’s nonetheless a younger, creating centre-back with simply half a season’s expertise on the prime degree, so inevitably there’s room for enchancment in sure areas. Having stated that, evidently there are not any extreme shortcomings to his sport, which is spectacular, given his age. He already seems set to take pleasure in a high-quality future within the sport and may finally outgrow Brighton; his first England call-up might be on the horizon too.
Being primarily a proactive and aggressive centre-back — who commits comparatively few fouls for a participant along with his set of traits — White might be higher off taking part in alongside a companion with a extra calculated strategy to defending (Lewis Dunk clearly matches this description at Brighton), as he can nonetheless seem overly desirous to regain possession or take particular person gambles.
At 6-foot-1, his lack of peak can also be a matter of trade-offs; if he had been a couple of inches taller, he’d clearly win a better proportion of his aerial challenges (he is within the 65%-70% vary, considerably on the low aspect for a centre-back), however he wouldn’t be as environment friendly at recovering the ball or profitable challenges on the bottom.
As a fast, adaptable, alert centre-back who is nice on the ball and eager to recuperate possession excessive up the pitch, it is no shock that golf equipment comparable to Liverpool and Manchester United are reportedly maintaining an in depth eye on him.
Having rendered himself so helpful for Bielsa (albeit at one tier down), there’s each likelihood Jurgen Klopp would be taught to understand the identical expertise that the Argentinian fell in love with, simply as White’s mobility and tempo would turn out to be useful at Outdated Trafford too.
After half a season within the Premier League, there’s nothing to recommend that he’d be uncovered (regardless of Brighton’s relegation struggles) if he had been to finish up at a membership preventing for honours on the different finish of the desk. The one query is how a lot Brighton could be keen to let him go for.