Giving Benjamin White his Flowers by Taku
Paying £50 million for a relatively inexperienced defender, from a recently promoted club is rarely ever a bargain, even when so called ‘British Tax’ is taken into consideration. However, with every passing match, it is increasingly looking like Edu and his team may have made out like bandits.
Suffice to say, there were a fair number of skeptics who—quite reasonably—questioned the wisdom of spending such a large amount of money on a defender who was, and perhaps still is, largely unproven. This article will go into the reasons why Benny Blanco is well on his way to proving the skeptics wrong.
Whilst it is important to take an insightful look into his statistics to further back this claim, it is worth mentioning the eye-test. And as the adage goes, ‘do not lie to your eyes.’
Whether it has been teaming up with Saka to torment Tottenham’s left-hand side with fantastic ball control, line-breaking passing, and intelligent movement; strategically sinister little trips to nip a potential counterattack in the bud on a couple of occasions; or throwing his body in the way of Reid’s stinging shot heading for the bottom corner, he has quietly become one of our most consistently exceptional players. All this, by the way whilst playing ‘out of position’.
The stats hold no argument against this fact.
Ben White’s average pass completion of ~87% places him in the 90th percentile as a fullback, and the 87th percentile amongst outfield players. His 3.27 expected assists put him in the top 18% of creative players in the league. Not to mention that he is yet to make an error leading to a goal, has only been dribbled past 8 times this season, and ranks in at least the top 20% for tackles and blocks in the league.
This is not to say that there is no room for improvement. Although all these stats are impressive, they can all still be improved upon. Also, he does not make as many interceptions as he should for a high pressing team (0.78 per game). His 14 aerial duels won are less than half of other fullbacks playing for elite teams like, Dalot, Cancelo, and Trippier as well.
But at 25, he will only improve on what are already elite levels of performance. He continues to develop into the quintessential archetype of a modern defender; technically and tactically versatile, athletic, and a willing and wily applicant of the dark arts—all traits of a world class defender.
Dare I say, Brighton may already be wishing they charged us more.
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