Leeds United to challenge some big names for signature of 'hugely sought after' Ben White

Leeds United managing director Angus Kinnear admits the club have a battle on their hands to try and get central defender Ben White to return to the club next season.

The 22-year-old is due to head back to parent club Brighton and Hove Albion following the conclusion of the Championship campaign next week.

Seagulls manager Graham Potter has reiterated his desire to bring the defender, who has been one of the Leeds's star men this term, back to the south coast.

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When White arrived at Elland Road, Leeds were keen to bring him on loan with an option to buy but that was not something Brighton were prepared to offer.

"I think Ben is going to be hugely sought after, it is one of the risks of doing the type of deal that we did," said Kinnear.

"I know supporters will wonder why there wasn't an option to buy him but Brighton weren't prepared to do that. It was either take the player without an option or don't take him at all.

"We clearly made the right decision and we have some conversations to have with Brighton as to where they see his future.

"They rate him very highly and other clubs rate him very highly."

STAR MAN: On-loan defender Ben White. Picture: Dave Howarth/PA Wire.

Kinnear has not ruled out the possibility of retaining White next season, adding: "We have an advantage in that Ben loves the club and he has loved playing for the club.

"He loves his teammates and knows he will get game time under Marcelo, so we have a small advantage.

"Ultimately, we are going to be fighting with some big names for his signature."

If White does not remain at Elland Road next season, one option for Leeds is 20-year-old Pascal Struijk, who played 30 minutes of Thursday night's victory over Barnsley.

United striker Patrick Bamford revealed after that the victory that the Dutch defender has impressed in training.

"We were doing murderball and he was on the opposite team. He was playing in that holding midfield role and I'm not joking I was getting screamed at by the manager," said Bamford.

"He was just getting the ball every time and I couldn't get anywhere near him - the back two and him were just passing it round me.

"I was losing my head because I was just chasing after him and he was literally controlling the whole session.

"The manager was shouting at me and I was thinking I can't get near him.

"He's been good since he came back and naturally he's been a centre-back at the club and that's the only position we've ever seen him in until he came back after lockdown.

"He's done really well. I think he's earned his chance and to be honest I thought he did alright when he came on [against Barnsley]. He didn't really put a foot wrong."