Leeds United loanee Ben White is shining in Championship

          White hitting heights

          2019/11/04 15:40
          By Sam Bevan

          Leeds United's Ben White has arguably been the standout defender so far in the Championship in 2019/20 - proving to be a lynchpin for one of the most solid defences in the top four divisions.

          Playmaker delves into the detail behind the Leeds United loanee's outstanding performances this season.

          Many Leeds United fans were left baffled in the summer after cult-hero Pontus Jansson left Elland Road for another Championship competitor, in Brentford.

          Reports suggest that the Swedish international was exiled from the squad after issues with Marcelo Bielsa, which peaked after the infamous 1-1 draw with Aston Villa in April 2019.

          That day Jansson ignored Bielsa’s orders to let Villa score after Mateusz Klich had controversially given Leeds the lead despite Jonathan Kodija being on the ground injured. Jansson's lack of sportmanship and inability to follow instructions were reportedly the final straw for Bielsa, who sold the Swede in the summer to the first bidder. 

          Leeds' fans concerns were not alleviated by the end of the summer transfer window, as the only realistic replacement for Jansson was the inexperienced Ben White, on loan from Brighton. With only two dedicated centre backs, and a general lack of defensive cover, there appeared to be a lack of quality and a real danger that a few injuries could throw Leeds' backline into chaos. 

          Although White was quite experienced for his age, having already played 127 games in his short career, he had only impressed below the Championship: making 42 appearances in League Two for Newport County in 2017/18, in addition to 15 games in League One for Peterborough United last season. 

          Despite his relative lack of experience, Bielsa saw something and entrusted the 21-year-old with commanding the Leeds back line. “In Bielsa we Trust” gets bandied about the Leeds fanbase and was well-founded with White's signing - the Argentine tactician's appraisal of the young defender proving to be spot on.

          This season, White has been the standout defender not only in Leeds' defence, but arguably in the division as a whole. 

          White leads the division in interceptions made (43 in total), highlighting his exceptional ability to read the game. His defensive prowess isn’t solely based on interceptions, with the centre back also making 30 tackles (the 2nd highest in the Leeds team). Impressively, White has only been dribbled past twice this season: when he needs to make a tackle, he makes it.

          Bielsa wanted a ball playing centre back, and White has filled that gap perfectly.

          White averages the highest number of passes-per-game in the Leeds squad (59.5 per game) with an impressive 85.9% completion rate. Calm on the ball, with the ability to come out with the ball at his feet, White has already become a fan favourite and an integral part of the Leeds squad.

          The Whites are yet to play a Championship game without White and his consistency for a young defender has been exceptional

          Even in defeats, White has stood out as a key performer, and he can take great pride in the fact that no top four tier team has conceded fewer league goals this season than Leeds.

          There is little doubt that Leeds would love to make White's deal with the club permanent, but they will almost certainly need to join his parent club Brighton in the Premier League if that is to happen.



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