Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa sends strong message to Ben White and Graham Potter
Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa offered glowing priase to Brighton defender Ben White who will return to Elland Road for the first time since helping Leeds win promotion during a successful loan spell last season.
Leeds failed in their bid to sign White permanently in the summer, with reported bids of £18m, £23m and £28m all rejected but Bielsa is ready to give him a warm welcome this Saturday.
The 23-year-old has since established himself as a key player for the Albion, featuring in 17 of their 18 top-flight fixtures ahead of his much-anticipated reunion.
“All of us here admire him as a player,” Bielsa added. “We respect him and love him as a human being.
“He was an excellent professional as well as a team-mate. I hope his career allows him to grow because he deserves it.”
Brighton boss Graham Potter has used White as a defender and midfielder this season. White calm and assured display have impressed Albion supporters and Potter insists White will not be sidetracked by sentiment following his “perfect loan” at Elland Road.
“He can be proud of his time there. He helped them and they helped him. It was a perfect loan,” said Potter.
“He speaks highly of everything at Leeds United and is very respectful of how they helped him and progressed his career because it was a fantastic time for him.
“But he is our player now and I am sure he will want to try to get the points against them.”
Leeds legend Eddie Gray also believes that if Ben White has a bright future ahead of him.
“It was a great experience for him to come to Leeds, be successful and get promotion. He played every game for us and his attitude was spot on.
“That's credit to the player and to Brighton. Their plan was always for Ben to get the experience with us under his belt and then play for them in the Premier League.
“He's mature now, but he's only 23 and he’s still growing into his frame, he’s a big lad. There's no doubt that he’s got all the talent to get right to the top."
Leeds will be without suspended midfielder Kalvin Phillips. Phillips received his fifth booking of the season in the recent defeat at Tottenham and sits out a one-game ban.
Forward Tyler Roberts has recovered from illness and is back in contention, while defenders Liam Cooper and Diego Llorente are also available.
Brighton are missing Tariq Lamptey (hamstring), Aaron Connolly (hamstring), Danny Welbeck (knee), Adam Lallana (illness) and Ali Jahanbakhsh is out with a 'minor injury.'