Liverpool are reported to be seriously considering a summer move for impressive Leeds loanee Ben White – but their scouts have identified one serious misgiving about the 22-year-old.
The Reds are likely to be in the market for a new central defender when the transfer window reopens with Dejan Lovren likely to finally leave Anfield this summer after a lack of first-team action.
The Croatia centre-back almost left Liverpool for AS Roma last summer in a deal which would have reportedly been worth as much as £15m, but Jurgen Klopp managed to convince him to stay.
This summer though the 30-year-old has been tipped to move on with his contract up in 2021.
“I’m patient. I’m working behind closed doors a lot and sometimes it is frustrating when you don’t play,” he told Sky Sports News.
“You are fighting with yourself in your mind, asking ‘Why not?’. But you are accepting it, you are moving on and from my personal point of view, I want to be better every day in the training sessions.”
Lovren has played just 14 times for the Reds this season – including nine times in the Premier League and three times in the Champions League – and there will be no shortage of takers for the centre-back.
Roma have once again been linked with his signature amid doubts over Chris Smalling’s future, while our exclusive earlier this week revealed four London-based clubs were also keen on potential deals.
And with Lovren’s time seemingly up, Leeds loanee White – an ever-present in the Championship for Marcelo Bielsa’s side since his season-long loan move last summer – has been identified as a strong option for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
White has become an integral part of Bielsa’s defence at Leeds since arriving from the south coast, sparking reports that the two Premier League heavyweights were weighing up moves for the centre-back.
And while Brighton boss Graham Potter has stated that White’s future remains with the Seagulls, explaining they have no interest in selling him, The Athletic claimed back in February that scouts from Liverpool have watched the 22-year-old closely in recent weeks and are strongly considering a summer approach for his services.
Those claims have since been substantiated by Football Insider, who claim Liverpool’s scouts have been ‘blown away’ by the form of the Leeds loanee and have been seriously impressed by his development since his switch to Elland Road.
Their scouting network – who all report in to sporting director Michael Edwards – are particularly impressed with White’s reading of the game, authority on the ball, his ability to carry the play forward and his tackling ability and acknowledge he has been a big part of Leeds’ success this season.
However, the Liverpool talent spotters have identified a major flaw in White‘s physique which could yet prevent a deal from going through.
As per the report, one area of White’s game that he has not faired well in his aerial duals and Liverpool have expressed concerns that his 6ft frame might just not be quite big enough.
They fear by central defensive standards, and in comparison to Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Lovren, who are all 6ft 3in or taller, White is far from a colossal figure.
Even Van Dijk’s No 1 preferrred option Joe Gomez, stands at 6ft 2in and has a better success rate at defensive headers and clearances than White.
Whether that is enough to dissuade Liverpool from making a move remains to be seen, but there’s little doubt Leeds would welcome the chance to make White’s move permanent.
White is contracted to Brighton until summer 2022 so would, in theory, be in no hurry to cash in on the defender, though much will depend on whether the player signs the reported contract extension the Seagulls are preparing for the defender at the end of the season.
Leeds, of course, would have strong designs on signing White permanently were they to secure promotion to the Premier League and their prospects could be aided after the club’s owner, Italian Andrea Radrizzani, confirmed for the first time that QSI were considering an investment into United.