Why Liverpool should push hard for Ben White deal next summer
The 23-year-old has long been on the radar of the reigning Premier League champions. He was heavily linked with a switch to Anfield throughout this past summer after catching the eye on loan during Leeds United’s triumphant campaign in the Championship last term.
As per the report, Liverpool opted against signing White as they believed the centre-back needed more top-flight exposure. The clamour has been rising for the Reds to bring in reinforcements at the back in the January window, given the ongoing injury crisis.
While White is very much under consideration this month, it is understood that Liverpool’s recruitment team are more interested in completing a deal for the centre-back next summer.
The Poole-born star ended up signing a new deal at Brighton back in September last year and has enjoyed a first-team breakthrough in the Premier League this season.
The highly-rated central defender has established himself as a key cog at the back for Graham Potter. White has started 17 out of the Seagulls’ 18 league fixtures so far this term, with the manager even trusting him to play in a holding midfield role at times. While the youngster has had a few awkward moments, his overall impression in his first season in the top-flight has been more than impressive.
Meanwhile, Liverpool currently find themselves reduced to bare bones at the heart of the defence. Long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, coupled with Joel Matip’s ongoing fitness issues, mean that Klopp’s backline has had a makeshift look to it in recent weeks.
Fabinho, who is one of the best defensive midfielders in the PL, has been shifted to a centre-back role to fill in the void. The Brazilian has been partnered by teenager Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips while captain Jordan Henderson was also thrust into an unfamiliar role in the 1-0 defeat against Southampton.
Indeed, Liverpool’s lack of specialist options at the back could deal a severe blow to their hopes of retaining the domestic crown heading into a hectic second half of the campaign. Having said that, however, it would still be completely understandable if they opt to wait until next summer before bringing in a new centre-back.
The Reds have always roped in players with an eye on the future and signing Ben White in the summer would be a sensible ploy. The 23-year-old isn’t really the finished article just yet and needs more top-flight experience to excel at an elite club like Liverpool. Hence, the champions should allow him to continue his development with regular game time at Brighton between now and the end of the season.
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Liverpool will be hoping that White evolves into a more complete defender in the coming months. That would see him emerge as a quality alternative to the likes of Gomez and Van Dijk at Anfield.
The Reds would need to fork out a significant fee to lure the 23-year-old away from the south coast. But he’d be well worth a long-term investment with his best years still very much ahead of him.