Another Leeds United Star Shines In A Makeshift Role: Why Bielsa Deserves Plaudits For This

The Marcelo Bielsa masterclass is finally making the Whites dream after years of anguish, pain and despair. Five successive league wins have brought Leeds United back to the summit of the Championship standings, and the veteran Argentine deserve plaudits for forming a formidable force capable of adjusting to crisis and offering flexibility across the pitch.

Injuries squandered Leeds’ promotion hopes last season. Yet the gaffer opted to extend his stay at Elland Road and worked tirelessly to fix the shortcomings to avoid another heartbreak at the end of the ongoing term. The summer exit of Pontus Jansson left a void, but the decision of roping in Ben White as his replacement turned out to be a masterstroke.

The young centre-half has not only been immense in deep defence but has also showcased his resilience as a deep-lying playmaker in the absence of Kalvin Phillips. The decision might seem bizarre to many, but the manager explained the same in the aftermath of his side’s derby win against Huddersfield Town.

“If he plays 10 or 15 matches in this position he will have impact in the same way he does at centre-back. For one centre-back it is a very good opportunity to play as a possession midfielder, and it is necessary. For one positional midfielder, it is necessary to play as a centre-back. These positions are close to each other and one player can play in both during the play.”

Bielsa told Leeds Live having utilised him in a similar role before versus Middlesbrough.

How Did The Leeds United Defensive Ace Fare In The Midfield Role?

The 22-year-old Brighton loanee featured in the hole in between the backline and midfield four.  It took him a while to settle in against the Terriers, but the impact he had was crucial considering the intensity and significance of the tie between these two West Yorkshire rivals. White was combative, headstrong, and also exhibited his tactical awareness with timely tackles, blocks and recoveries. Not only did the defender play his part in Patrick Bamford’s goal, but he also stayed alert while marshalling the ‘back four’.

What’s Next For White

Although the youngster should return to his usual central defensive role once Phillips is back in action, Leeds must try to keep hold of him and tie him down permanently if they secure top-flight promotion. However, his emergence has drawn the attention of Premier League hotshots including Liverpool and Manchester United (as reported by The Athletic) with the Seagulls tipped to demand a fee of around £20m from his suitors who are keen on securing his services. While Brighton are fighting for their top-flight existence, White’s future remains in the balance considering his uprise and improvement this season.

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