Leeds United chief executive makes surprise Brighton admission on Ben White pursuit

Leeds United appear to be on the brink of giving up on their mission to sign Ben White on a permanent basis from Premier League rivals Brighton
Ben White reported for preseason training with Brighton yesterdayBen White reported for preseason training with Brighton yesterday
Ben White reported for preseason training with Brighton yesterday

Newly-promoted Leeds have had three bids rejected, the third of which was submitted on Tuesday night and believed to be in the region of £25m.

White, 22, is contracted with Brighton until 2022 and reported back for preseason training with Albion on Wednesday.

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He was hugely impressive for Leeds during his season-long loan and played in all 46 Championship games last campaign as Leeds were promoted as champions to the Premier League under Marcelo Bielsa.

Leeds are determined to strengthen their squad ahead of their first campaign in England's top flight since 2004 and losing the services of White would represent a big step backwards in Bielsa's team building process.

Brighton view White as a key part of the Premier League plans for this season and are desperate to keep a player who has also attracted interest from Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool.

Brighton are well stocked in defensive areas with Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, Shane Duffy, Dan Burn and new signing Joel Veltman all proven at the highest level.

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Albion head coach Graham Potter is also a huge admirer of White's calm defensive qualities and even tried to sign the youngster from Brighton during his time in charge at Swansea in 2018.

Brighton continue to negotiate with White on an improved contract but so far they are yet to reach an agreement with the player who has yet to make a Premier League appearance.

That offers a glimmer of hope for Leeds but the club admit Brighton's refusal to budge means they are actively pursuing other defensive options.

"Ben had a wonderful season for us last season," said Leeds United chief executive Angus Kinnear. "He is a player that we rate very highly, we know the fans love him and we think Ben enjoyed his time here.

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"We have made no secret of the fact that we would like to bring him here permanently.

"We also have to be very respectful of the fact that he is a Brighton player, he is training with them currently and there have been discussions.

"I think it is going to be challenging to make him a Leeds United player but if it is not Ben White, then we have other options which are in advanced stages and we will be closing in on one of them soon."

"We know that players want to come and play for Leeds United in the Premier League, so I don't think we are going to have any challenge in attracting the right players," he said.

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"What we are finding is the market is moving more slowly than it perhaps would do normally. Although we are only a few weeks away from the start of the season, in terms of the transfer market we are only a couple of weeks into it.

"I think the deals are going to take time. We are not going to rush it; we are going to want to secure the right players but we are confident of strengthening the three to four key areas we need and bringing in those people in the window."

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