Ben White: Leeds will find it 'challenging' to sign Brighton defender, says Angus Kinnear

Kinnear says head coach Marcelo Bielsa is very close to signing his new contract; club won't rush to sign players ahead of new season

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Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear has revealed head coach Marcelo Bielsa is 'very close' to signing a new contract, but admits a deal to bring Ben White back to Elland Road is 'challenging'

Leeds United chief executive Angus Kinnear says the club will find it "challenging" to sign Brighton defender Ben White on a permanent deal this summer.

White played in all 46 Sky Bet Championship games last season, during a season-long loan at Elland Road, as champions Leeds won promotion to the Premier League under Marcelo Bielsa.

Leeds have since made three bids for the 22-year-old defender - the latest worth £25m - as the club look to reinforce their squad ahead of their first campaign in England's top flight since 2004.

White, who is yet to play in the Premier League, has so far turned down three improved contract offers from Brighton, but Kinnear says the club have other targets in line should a move fail to materialise for the centre-back.

Speaking to Sky Sports News after the Premier League fixtures were announced, Kinnear said: "Ben had a wonderful season for us last season.

"He is a player that we rate very highly, we know the fans love him and we think Ben enjoyed his time here. We have made no secret of the fact that we would like to bring him here permanently.

Ben White has been on loan at Leeds since last July
Image: Ben White formed an impressive defensive partnership with Leeds captain Liam Cooper last season

"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.

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"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."


'Deals are going to take time'

Kinnear is confident that Leeds will be able to attract players to the club following their long-awaited promotion, with Rangers winger Ryan Kent the latest reported target, despite conceding moves may not materialise before the new season starts.

"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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John Barnes expects Leeds to flourish in the Premier League despite their opening day fixture at champions Liverpool

"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."

Bielsa 'very, very close' to signing new contract

Bielsa is yet to sign a new deal as head coach this summer, following the end of his initial two-year deal, but Kinnear reassured Leeds supporters that it was a formality.

Marcelo Bielsa and the players celebrate winning the Sky Bet Championship.
Image: Bielsa led Leeds to the Sky Bet Championship title in his second season in charge at Elland Road

"He is very, very close [to signing a new contract]" Kinnear added. "The challenge with Marcelo as we had last season is, he is totally fixated on the preparations for the season ahead.

"He is at the training ground every day, he is working with the team, he is doing his analytics. I just need to find the appropriate window to get the paper in front of him and for him to sign. But we don't foresee any challenges."

The key dates of the Premier League 2020/21 season

The Premier League has revealed the 2020/21 season will start on Saturday September 12.

The season is scheduled to finish on Sunday May 23, 2021 - just 19 days before the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament kicks off.

The transfer window opened on Monday July 27 and will close on Monday October 5 at 11pm. An additional domestic-only window will run from October 5 to 5pm on October 16 but Premier League clubs will only be able to trade with EFL clubs.

Premier League ins and outs

Who has your team signed? Who has been shipped out?

Check here for a comprehensive list of all the Premier League ins and outs from the 2020 summer transfer window, which opened on July 27 and closes on October 5.

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