Sam Allardyce’s first task as Leeds United manager must be to arrest the club’s awful defensive run of form, which has seen them ship a record-breaking 23 goals in April alone.
While the blame cannot solely lie in the defence, with Illan Meslier certainly culpable for a number of goals conceded, it is clear that the options available to Allardyce at the back have been nowhere near consistent enough throughout the Premier League season.
Therefore, the 68-year-old may well be wishing that he could call on some of the Leeds players of old, with Arsenal and England defender Ben White certainly someone who could have bolstered a backline that is desperately short on confidence.
How did White perform at Leeds United?
Following loan spells at Newport County and Peterborough United in League Two and League One respectively, White would make the temporary switch to Elland Road from Brighton ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.
The young defender quickly established himself as a key player in Marcelo Bielsa’s side, featuring in all 46 games in the Championship as Leeds won the title, following a season break due to the pandemic.
He would score once and assist twice in those games, with a hugely impressive 7.06 rating from WhoScored for his performances, so it was no surprise that the West Yorkshire outfit wanted to make his stay permanent the following summer.
Bielsa’s side would submit as many as three bids for the Englishman but saw their move for White collapse after he signed a new deal at the Amex Stadium, going on to make 36 appearances for the Seagulls in the 2020/21 campaign.
Would White have been helpful to Leeds now?
His performances in the top flight did enough to convince Arsenal and Mikel Arteta that he was worth £50m the following summer, and after a season of adjustment at the Emirates, he has been one of the key men in the Gunners’ title challenge so far this term.
In 34 Premier League appearances, he has contributed two goals and five assists with a solid 6.83 rating from WhoScored for his performances, which is better than anyone in Leeds’ squad, which emphasises the quality he could have added at Elland Road this season, had the Whites managed to turn his loan into a permanent deal back in 2020.
Dubbed a “complete player” by Arteta, the 25-year-old’s impressive displays as a right-back this season also suggests that he could have helped to solve the defensive woes at Elland Road, as the poor performances of both Luke Ayling and Rasmus Kristensen have been an issue throughout the campaign for Leeds.
The two right-backs rank seventh and 10th for average ratings in Leeds’ squad, while they have also been dribbled past the second and third-most, which displays how disappointing they have been defensively.
Therefore, the €47m-rated (£41m) White could have been a great player for Allardyce to have in the relegation run-in, and he will be wishing that the Yorkshire outfit pushed harder to sign him from Brighton three years ago.