Victor Orta has told the Phil Hay Show that he felt that Ben White was Leeds United’s best player during their Championship promotion season.
Leeds came up last year and quickly turned their attentions to signing White from Brighton & Hove Albion, but they were unable to get a deal over the line.
The signing of White is regarded as one of Orta’s very best deals so far, given he had very little reputation before he arrived at Elland Road.
But the young centre-back had impressed all observers, including Sergio Ramos, during his loan spell at Newport.
Orta suggests that before White had even signed for Leeds, Ramos had been sent clips of the 23-year-old.
And the Real Madrid defender only had positive words to say about White, who subsequently went on loan to Leeds for the season.
“I give you an example, Ben White. He was the best player this year [in the Championship], if not best, top five. For me the best. Now he’s in the England squad,” Orta said.
“Ben White doesn’t play one game in the Championship before.
“The loan at Newport was really good and when we start to monitor because we were watching, to be honest I feel impressed.
“I remember in the first moment Sergio Ramos said ‘who is this kid? playing in the line of Newport’. And was really impressed.
“Even in Brighton [people said] he’s soft. He cannot play Championship. But we think the skills he has fit for us, in terms of distribution, quick – all the style of our special centre-backs.”
White and the future
The gamble certainly paid off for Leeds, as White was a key player on their road back to the Premier League.
The technically adept defender has since gone on to prove his quality at the top level, although away from Elland Road.
White has been a mainstay for Brighton this season, and his form has forced him into England’s provisional squad for Euro 2020.
Whether White will make the final cut remains to be seen, but the call-up highlights just how much progressed he has made in recent years.
And White will be forever grateful to Leeds for having such an influence on his career, as he stated himself this week.