Leeds United face an uphill struggle to secure the permanent signing of on-loan defender Ben White from Brighton & Hove Albion.
The centre-back has been integral to the Yorkshire outfit this term, as they confirmed their return to the Premier League this week after a 16-year absence.
But the Championship winners have been told to forget about prizing White away from Brighton by Seagulls boss Graham Potter.
“He’s contracted with us and he’s on loan at Leeds. He’s our player,” the former Swansea City manager told a press conference on Saturday, as reported by the Daily Mail.
“It’s fantastic he’s had this year with Leeds. I think everybody won.
“Ben got some great experience, Leeds achieved their goal of promotion.
“But we rate him highly. I followed his career personally when he was at Newport and Peterborough.
“We like him a lot. He’s a really good player and thankfully he’s our player,” Potter continued.
“(Next season) he’ll be competing for a place like everyone else.”
The news comes as a blow to Leeds, who would have hoped to tempt White back to Elland Road after a superb season in the Championship.
Comfortable on the ball and even able to play in midfield when required, the 22-year-old has slotted seamlessly into Marcelo Bielsa’s system and has been instrumental in the team claiming a long-awaited promotion.
It has led to speculation linking him with the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and even Premier League champions Liverpool.
This is unlikely to be the end of Leeds’ pursuit, particularly if White is keen on a return to the club himself.
And as always, if a large enough bid comes in, it will doubtless be a test of Brighton’s resolve.
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