Photo: skysports
Photo: skysports

Benjamin William White (born 8 October 1997) is an English professional footballer who plays as a center-back for Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion and the England national team.

White has previously had spells on loan at Newport County of League Two, Peterborough United of League One, and Leeds United. At Leeds he played in every game, helping them win the 2019–20 Championship and gain promotion to the Premier League.

Where has he come from?

Born in Poole, White is a product of the Southampton academy. After not making the grade there, he was picked up by Brighton at age 16. After a few years in the youth teams, he spent the entire 2017-18 season on loan at Newport County in League Two, where he showed signs of things to come with an outstanding performance to hold off Harry Kane in a 1-1 draw at home against Tottenham in the FA Cup fourth round in January 2018, although he was less impressive in the replay as they lost 2-0. He then moved up the ladder with a League One loan spell at Peterborough the following year.

Something of a late bloomer, his proper breakthrough came during his loan spell at Leeds United in 2019-20. During their successful promotion campaign, White didn't miss a single minute in the Championship, which prompted efforts from the club to secure his services on a permanent basis with three offers, the last which was reported £25m.

However, having kept a close eye on the player's development under Marcelo Bielsa, Brighton knew better and wisely rebuffed any interest. White signed a new four-year contract with Brighton last September and has gone from strength to strength in the Premier League. With links to powerhouses Liverpool and Man United, the club value his contract at £50m to further discourage offers.


Versatility is certainly a factor in why the 23-year-old is held in such high esteem. During his spell at Leeds, Bielsa mainly played White as a center-back in a back four, although he did make a few cameos as a holding midfielder in the Championship.

With Brighton this season, he's started to appear more frequently further up the pitch, shielding the back three (or back four, on the rare occasion) from a defensive midfield position. Especially impressive was his performance in the 1-0 win away at Elland Road (ironically) a few weeks ago, in which he delivered a mature display; picking up loose balls, intercepting potential danger, and distributing efficiently.

"I have taken all the knowledge from the games I played in central midfield for Leeds and tried to fit it in for Brighton," he told The Athletic. "It's obviously a different team, different players, different league, but the basics are the same. You need to run, put pressure on people, get people's heads down and try to turn the ball over for your team."

While Brighton manager Graham Potter has recently seemed to favor White as the right center-back in his back three, he also possesses the attributes to easily fill in at right-back.


Photo: besoccer
Photo: besoccer

White offers a happy marriage between an old-school center-half and the modern-day sophisticated center-back. On the one hand, he's one of the most eager tacklers in the Premier League and he does not shy away from the physical dimension of the game, while on the other he's mobile, quick at changing direction and moving around the pitch, calm in possession and a measured passer of the ball (the latter two qualities being useful in escaping pressing from opposing forwards).

Added to that he's aggressive, regularly wins the ball high up the pitch (obligatory in a Bielsa team and another reason why the Argentinian boss values him), and is confident enough to bring the ball out of defense, often dashing past a couple of opponents before releasing it.

White also plays with a high level of focus; he rarely "switches off," which is backed up by his penchant for spectacular goal-line clearances.

Ben White is a top young defender who should go far.


He is still a young, developing center-back with just half a season's experience at the top level, so inevitably there's room for improvement in certain areas. Having said that, it seems that there are no severe shortcomings to his game, which is impressive, given his age. He already looks set to enjoy a fine future in the game and might eventually outgrow Brighton; his first England call-up is probably on the horizon too.

Being mainly a proactive and aggressive center-back -- who commits relatively few fouls for a player with his set of characteristics -- White is probably better off playing alongside a partner with a more calculated approach to defending (Lewis Dunk clearly fits this description at Brighton), as he can still appear overly eager to regain possession or take individual gambles.

At 6-foot-1, his lack of height is also a matter of trade-offs; if he were a few inches taller, he'd obviously win a higher percentage of his aerial challenges (he's in the 65%-70% range, somewhat on the low side for a center-back), but he would not be as efficient at recovering the ball or winning challenges on the ground.

Ben White career stats

After progressing through Albion’s youth ranks, Ben White became a consistent figure for the under-23s, while also featuring on the bench for the first team on numerous occasions during the 2016/17 season.

The central defender made his professional debut against Colchester United in the first round of the EFL Cup in 2016 when the Seagulls ran out 4-0 winners at the Amex Stadium.

White also played 90 minutes in the next round at Oxford United, with Albion winning 4-2 on that occasion.

A move to Sky Bet League Two side Newport County saw the defender play 51 times for the Exiles during the 2017/18 campaign, scoring one goal and laying on five assists.

After spending the opening half of the 2018/19 season with Albion’s under-23s, White secured a loan move to Peterborough United, which allowed him to experience the action in England’s third tier.

The 23-year-old had a stellar season at Leeds United in 2019/20, going onto be a regular in Marcelo Bielsa's side, as they won promotion to the Premier League as champions.

He played in every league game, netting an impressive strike in his final game for Leeds against Charlton Athletic.

White signed a new four-year contract with Albion in September 2020 and went onto make his Premier League debut later on that month in a 3-1 home defeat to Chelsea.

Why the Premier League's top clubs all want Brighton's Ben White

Photo: bangsport
Photo: bangsport

At 23, Brighton's Ben White has become one of the most highly-rated young center-backs in England. With excellent young defenders so hard to find these days, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool have reportedly been scouting him, and his performances over the past year have seen rumors of a £50 million move surface.

Having taken a few years to reach the top level, White now looks comfortable in the Premier League and will come up against one of the clubs monitoring him closest when he takes on Liverpool on Wednesday night.

Here's the lowdown on the defender (who idolized former Manchester United, Leeds, and England defender Rio Ferdinand) who has become such an important player for Brighton.

Arsenal targeting Ben White with move being prepared for England defender

Brighton & Hove Albion defender Ben White has emerged as a concrete target for Arsenal this summer and the north London side are believed to be preparing a move for the 23-year-old.

White’s rise to prominence was rewarded last week with place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the European Championship, by which stage Arsenal’s interest had already intensified.

Although White is under contract until 2024, there is thought to be an understanding that Brighton will not prevent his exit if the price is right. It could take a fee in the region of £40-50 million — which is unlikely to be insurmountable for Arsenal — while personal terms should not be an issue.

Arteta is keen to secure a new right-sided centre-back in the current transfer window and having explored the possibility of recruiting Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, Arsenal’s focus has turned to White.

It is unclear what an arrival in that position would mean for William Saliba, who has spent two seasons on loan since joining Arsenal in 2019 and was tipped to fight for a place on his return.

After a disappointing campaign that saw Arsenal left without European football for the first time in 25 years, a lot of business is anticipated to and from the Emirates Stadium in the coming months.

Arsenal will not be his only suitors but the speed of their pursuit appears to have given them a strong chance of securing a deal for a talent who would also add to their homegrown options.

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