Graham Potter says Ben White will be akin to a new £25million signing for Brighton – but warns it may take the highly-rated defender time to adapt his Leeds form in the Premier League.
Albion rewarded White with a four-year contract at the start of the month. That’s after they fended off considerable pre-season interest from Leeds, where he shined on loan last season.
The promising 22-year-old won the Championship title at Elland Road last season. But now he’s poised to make his top-flight debut when the Seagulls host Chelsea on Monday evening.
While Potter is excited by the player’s undoubted potential, he is also keen to manage expectations.
“We know the progress he’s been making, we know the qualities that he has. But we also know that he’s making a step from the Championship to the Premier League. Our experience of that isn’t so straightforward,” said Potter.
“Regardless of what anybody thinks, we know there will be some challenges. We know there will be some ups and downs for him. That’s part of being a young player, part of being a player making those steps to where he wants to get to.
“It’s our job to try to help him and to make sure that he can enjoy his football. We want him to be himself, that he can be part of a winning team because that helps players develop.
“On the market, he’s valued at £25million-plus because that’s how it is. And, if you sign a £25millon player, all of a sudden everybody gets very excited.
“It’s not just as easy as that, unfortunately. He’s a new player for us, a player that’s come from outside our group last year and he’s given a different dynamic to the group. We’re pleased.”
Potter on Leeds transfer tussle
White’s only Albion appearances to date came over four years ago in Carabao Cup victories over Colchester and Oxford in August 2016.
The centre-back continued his development during loan spells at Newport and Peterborough. But it was his time as an ever-present under Marcelo Bielsa that made him.
Potter insists he was always confident of keeping White at the Amex Stadium and paid little attention to the persistent transfer rumours.
“There’s a lot of fuss about the lad from outside and there’s nothing you can do to control that really,” he said.
“He’s shown no signs of any problems. He didn’t change his ways when there was lots of speculation around before he signed his contract to after.
“He’s been great from day one, quite calm in everything – like we were – and then you just have to let all the noise from the outside go and in the end we just work.”