Scout Report: What are Leeds getting from new centre-back Ben White?
Leeds announced their first two senior signings of the summer earlier this week as they unveiled Jack Harrison and Ben White.
Harrison was at the club last season and the fans know him very well.
White is more of an unknown quantity although he did play 90 minutes on loan for Newport when they beat Leeds in the FA Cup in 2018.
The 21-year-old has come up through the youth ranks at Brighton, playing for their Under-18s, 21s and 23s. He’s spent two stints out on loan at Newport (full season) and Peterborough (half-season), where he made 51 and 16 appearances respectively.
He’s also played 90 minutes in two EFL cup games for Brighton, on the winning side both times, and has made the first-team bench on numerous occasions.
White signed a new contract extension with Brighton before his Leeds loan and that will keep him at the Amex until 2022. As far as we know, Leeds do not have an option to buy the player next summer.
Interestingly, a report in the Argus stated that Brighton wouldn’t want to send White anywhere he was viewed as just cover. They want game-time for him and that suggests White isn’t at Elland Road to sit on the bench.
So, what would Leeds be getting?
A player very much in the Bielsa mould.
White is strong, possesses decent pace and is good with the ball at his feet. He’s close to 6ft and has a presence in the box but he can also play out at right-back.
His defensive stats (https://wyscout.com/) aren’t any better than the current Leeds centre-backs Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson, but if White is going to start one of these two would have to drop ou – or one or other of them moved on.
White has a decent pass accuracy of 80.3% (83.8% and 89.3% for Cooper and Jansson respectively) but he performs well for long passes with 6.02/51% accuracy compared to 6.83/49% for Cooper and 3.14/53.6% for Jansson per 90.
He also attempts more dribbles per 90 – 0.78/66.7% (White), 0.59/85.5% (Cooper), 0.67/76.3% (Jansson).
His stats also have to be put in the context of the teams he’s been playing for. Peterborough finished seventh in League One last season, while Leeds enjoyed a possession-heavy game near the top of the Championship.
White should really benefit from Bielsa’s coaching in pre-season and we think there’s a solid, modern centre-back there who could play at Championship level.
For Leeds fans, though, the worry will be who he’s going to replace if he plays. Cooper and Jansson have got a good partnership and if it ain’t broke, why fix it?