MOT View – Ben White, season review
The only thing that Leeds fans knew about Ben White when he signed in the summer was that he had never played against opponents as high as Championship sides before.
He made two appearances for Brighton in the EFL Cup, against League One and Two opposition.
And he got himself on the Leeds radar after loan stints with Newport and Peterborough.
He made 16 appearances for League One side Peterborough before signing for Leeds on a season-long loan.
Was he back-up or was he being brought in for first-team action?
When Pontus Jansson was sold and no other centre-backs brought in, that question was answered but there was a feeling of trepidation around Elland Road.
That passed in the first game of the season against Bristol City. White was superb and he’s hardly put a foot wrong all season. It might be silly to compare him to Virgil van Dijk, but he plays the game with the same sort of calm – almost as if he’s operating at a different speed to any other player on the pitch.
He quickly forged a brilliant partnership with Liam Cooper who also lifted his game this season and between them they contributed to the Championship’s tightest defence.
Then the seemingly inevitable happened. Cooper was injured and his replacement, Gaetano Berardi, was sent off in the 2-1 defeat to Millwall at the weekend.
That’s going to put more pressure on White in the heart of the defence and it’s likely that either Luke Ayling, Kalvin Phillips, Pascal Struijk (if fit) or Leif Davis will deputise in the centre.
That decision not to sign another centre-back with Jansson and Aapo Halme leaving in the summer could backfire and if anything happens to White… Well, that’s unthinkable at the moment.
He’s been absolutely brilliant so far and Leeds fans would love him to sign permanently in the summer. That will be down to Brighton but they’ll certainly know how well he’s playing at the moment and what his potential is.
According to WhoScored he was the best player on the pitch despite Leeds losing 1-0 to Swansea, and he’s got an average rating of 7.33. Van Dijk has a 7.39 for Liverpool. Just saying.
MOT View: A+
In other Leeds news: Patrick Bamford – season review