According to The Athletic, Manchester United are in the race to sign Brighton Hove Albion’s highly rated center-back Ben White. According to reports, Liverpool and Manchester City are also interested in signing the 22-year-old. But who exactly is Ben White?
Born in South coast town Poole, Ben White was blooded at the famous Southampton academy responsible for the likes of Luke Shaw, Theo Walcott, and Gareth Bale. However, unlike those mentioned he was not destined to breathe the air of first-team football at St Mary’s and was let go by the Saints at aged 16.Embed from Getty Images
The centre-Back was then snapped up by Brighton Hove Albion in 2014 and after 2 years of playing reserve football made his professional debut in the EFL Cup against Colchester in the 16/17 season. White Played 90 minutes and kept a clean sheet in what was a promising debut as the Seagulls secured a 4-0 win.
The beginning of the 17/18 season saw Ben White move to Newport County on a loan deal. The Englishman was part of the team that took Pochettino’s Tottenham to a replay after a draw at home. After making 47 appearances for the Exiles, his impressive spell at Rodney Parade was rewarded with a new contract at Brighton. The Manager at the time Chris Hughton was high in his praise of the then 20-year-old, who according to the Ex-Spurs man was an “example of a young player that has worked very hard to develop his game”.(South Wales Argus)Embed from Getty Images
Ben White found himself on loan the following season after a lack of first-team playing time. At Peterborough, White made 16 appearances for the League 1 side where consistent performances encouraged Marcelo Bielsa to bring him in for the 19/20 season for a year. The loan was called a “masterstroke” by a Sky Sports pundit as White was an integral part of what could have been a Promotion for Leeds United, making 40 appearances and even chipping in with a couple of assists.
What Could Ben White Bring To United?
What does Ben White bring to the table? The answer is simple, he is the embodiment of a ball playing centre back. According to LUFCDATA, of all the Leeds layers to have played over 600 minutes Ben White completed 85% of his passes in the Championship this season.Embed from Getty Images
At Manchester United we are blessed with centre backs that can play, Maguire and Lindelof aren’t shy when it comes to keeping the ball on the floor and finding a pass. In the Premier League Maguire had a pass completion of 85% also, a percentage matched by his centre back partner who also completed 85% of his passes. However, the key here is that the intensity of the Championship is argued by many to transcend that of the Premier League, so in comparison, we could argue that White’s percentage is the most impressive.
Harry Maguire is known for his infamous ability to travel with the ball into midfield, Ben White Statistically completes more dribbles at 0.6 per game compared to Harry Maguire’s 0.2 per game. (WhoScored)Embed from Getty Images
In relation to raw defensive statistics, which we should be looking at as they are centre-backs after all, White has completed more than treble the interceptions that Victor Lindelof has per game at 2.3 compared to Lindelof’s 0.7 despite playing significantly more minutes.
Marcelo Bielsa has been so impressed with Ben White’s showing that he has even contemplated playing him in a deep midfield role. “I think if he plays 10 or 15 matches in this position [defensive midfield] he would have an impact the same way he does as a centre-back.” The Spaniard told reporters.Embed from Getty Images
Whether Manchester United need a centre-back or not is a different discussion, we’ve been linked to the likes of Koulibaly and Upamecano, Ben White is easily the most left field. However, unlike the other two mentioned, Ben White follows the mold that we have seen pursued by Solskjaer, young and English, perhaps that is the pull of Ben White. It goes without saying that whoever secures the signature of the boy from Poole has a promising talent on their hands. Definitely one to look out for with just one year left on his current Brighton deal.