By Nick Ware

1st Apr, 2021 | 3:36pm

Report: Ex-Leeds loanee Ben White is 'open' to Manchester United move

Former Leeds United loanee and long-term target Ben White is keen on a summer transfer to Manchester United, according to MEN Sport.

Brighton defender White spent last season on loan at Leeds and was an ever-present as Marcelo Bielsa’s side swept all before them en route to the Championship title.

The Whites were desperate to secure his permanent signature and his agent publicly outlined his desire to return to Elland Road [The Argus] but his parent club were steadfast in their stance and refused to sell him.

But after an inconsistent campaign spent at the wrong end of the table for the Seagulls reports are starting to emerge linking the 23-year-old with a move away again, such as this one from MEN.

They claim that White is ‘open to the idea’ of moving to Manchester United and sees himself at a ‘big club’ like the Red Devils in the coming years, though Brighton are still extremely reluctant to part ways with him.

This comes weeks after Manchester United journalist Jonathan Shrager claimed on his personal Twitter profile that the club had made enquires for the ball-playing central defender.

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Leeds fans won’t like this one.

There was a lot of love for White last season after his Championship heroics. He looked tailor-made for the Bielsa system with his ease on the ball and recovery pace.

The feeling was mutual – White couldn’t stop eulogising about the West Yorkshire side and he appeared destined for a long-term future at Elland Road.

But Brighton put the blockers on that move and with the additions of Diego Llorente and Robin Koch last summer, as well as the emergence of Pascal Struijk as a quality Premier League defender, the clamour to re-sign White has calmed down.

There is the argument, though, that with the injury issues surrounding Koch and Llorente (they have only made 19 Premier League appearances between them) as well as Liam Cooper’s advancing years, that Bielsa could go back in for White, particularly if his south-coast side suffer relegation.

If Leeds do not move for him this summer he cannot be blamed for looking elsewhere to further his career as despite Brighton battling relegation this season, his stock has not fallen too much and he is likely to want a step up.

White could go to practically any elite team in Europe or the Premier League and Leeds fans would not bat an eyelid- as long as it’s not Manchester United.

The hatred between the clubs is well documented and the last notable player to move there from Elland Road was Alan Smith – that was not a move received well in West Yorkshire.

The Brighton defender would not be making the same direct move but his departure is still fresh in the mind.

With the Whites destined for big things under Bielsa tensions are only likely to re-emerge with two English powerhouses set to do battle at the top in years to come.

The hope will be that if White does move to United it will be Leeds, not Manchester. Otherwise his reputation may take a monumental battering among supporters.

In other Leeds United news, three big doubts in team news v Sheffield United.