Pope was a guest on the latest episode of the Talking Shutt podcast when he was asked what was different about Leeds this season.
“Genuine pace in Costa and Nketiah, who seems to be an out-and-out goal-scorer,” Pope said, “but maybe in six months’ time we might be talking about the best signing being Ben White.
“In every respect he’s as talented as [Pontus] Jansson, as committed to a tackle, which is one thing I was concerned about, and he’s got the temperament that Jansson barely had. I’ve been absolutely blown away by him, I think he’s awesome.”
White the unsung hero for Leeds
White has been a revelation since he arrived at Leeds, way better than anyone expected after only playing in Leagues One and Two before.
As Pope said, he’s calm and collected in defence, but it’s his range of passing that makes him the player who can affect a real change in this Leeds side.
In the Championship win against Stoke, he boasted a 90% pass accuracy and made the second-most successful passes of any player on the pitch.
Ben White vs. Stoke:
90% pass accuracy
62/69 successful passes (2nd-most)
11 ball recoveries (joint-most)
5 tackles won (most on pitch)
4 headed clearances (most)
3 interceptions (most on pitch)
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) August 24, 2019
According to stats site WyScout, his 19/20 numbers are even better than that, with an incredible pass success rate of 91.3% and a 55.1% long pass completion. He’s also won an impressive 71.1% of his defensive duels.
Virgil van Dijk, arguably the best centre-back n the world, has a pass success rate of 94.1% and has won 65.9% of his defensive duels this season.
The comparisons with van Dijk might be extremely premature but he seems to have the same time on the ball as the Liverpool superstar.
The point Pope makes about White’s temperament is very important as well.
He’s only been booked once in six Championship games and we’re going to bet he’s not going to pick up a suspension for swearing in a post-match interview with Sky.
Jansson picked up seven yellow cards and one red in the league last season and missed two games through suspension. That was a good season for him. He picked up 27 yellow cards in the two previous seasons for Leeds.