Leeds United are ready to battle Brighton & Hove Albion over the permanent signing of young defender Ben White.
The 22-year-old has been on loan to the Championship side for the 2019-20 season and has been in great form, winning the EFL Champioship PFA player of the month in just his first month at the club.
White was then linked with a shock move to Liverpool as he continued to shine at the heart of the Leeds defence.
The youngster has only gone from strength to strength as SkySports awarded him the EFL Championship Best Young Player award in December 2019 while England manager Gareth Southgate has even been to watch the defender in Janaury 2020.
Given his form, it is of little surprise that Leeds want to try land the centreback on a permanent deal with football finance expert Kieran Maguire stating that the decline in the market due to the Covid-19 pandemic could mean a lower fee for him.
“I think in respect of the teams coming up they will probably spend a little bit less but that’s partly due to the fact they will be able to buy the players slightly cheaper,” he said. “Now, I think Brighton would have been looking for a very high price for Ben White because he’s probably one of the best centre-backs in the Championship.In the market in the sort of mid-tier clubs I think there will be a decline in value so they may be able to get him for £4-5million less than they initially thought. Similarly, Brighton would be able to do exactly the same.”
Brighton however, are said to be unwilling to let White go, with Chairman Tony Bloom insisting that the player is in the plans for the Brighton 1st team.
“We are delighted Ben White has done so well at Leeds. It could be the academy becomes more important for next season for our first team, but in terms of our under-23 players, I’m not sure right now [they] are ready to be playing Premier League football next season. We may well bring back some of [the] players that went on loan. That is a really good sign looking ahead to next season.”
There is no doubt that White has proven that he has the talent needed to make the step up and play in the Premier League, the question now will be whether Brighton can hold onto both him and their Premier League place, or whether he will join Leeds and helop them gain promotion back into English top flite football.