With just two weeks of the transfer window remaining and reports of an incoming player waiting for the financial green light at Elland Road, speculation of who will leave Leeds United in order to finance McDermott’s latest transfer venture has been rife. Fears of Ross McCormack departing to Middlesbrough have been fueled further- poignant quotes of hope rather than assurance from striker and manager have entrenched doubts in the Elland Road faithful as they ponder the possibilities of life without the Scot. The Yorkshire Evening Post have meanwhile questioned the long-term futures of El-Hadji Diouf, David Norris and Adam Drury. Despite the speculation though, the general consensus in the concourse at Elland Road expects Aidan White to be a main contender for the exit doors.
Having previously been linked with a move north of the border with Celtic, and closer to home with Derby, the 21-year-old left back isn’t a stranger to conjecture and rumour. White has been subject to a failed £250k bid from Blackpool, a rejection that few expected. The Seasiders had acted on instinct after learning of Leeds’ ‘sell-to-buy’ policy this window, only to see their bid for the Irish Under 21 international rejected alongside a bid for Middlesbrough target McCormack. Whilst many support the decision to keep McCormack, opting to keep White in favour of a fairly healthy cash bid came as a surprise. In keeping with the aforementioned transfer policy of today, the decision didn’t seem to follow the urgency prayed for by fans to move on more disposable members in order to freshen the squad.
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After all, doubts have been cast as to whether or not Aidan White can still make a name for himself as a Leeds United star. With over 125 competitive appearances at club and national level, White is no longer considered a ‘prospect’ at Elland Road. Despite age being on his side, the left back has experienced five years of professional football- A time period like that is hard to maintain the mantle of ‘prospect for the future’ at your one and only club. Upon his debut, White was seen as a raw talent with natural pace, many holding their hopes on a bright future at Leeds United. Five years on, and little improvement has been found. That raw talent has yet to be defined into something more specialist, and what should’ve been Leeds’ future starting left-back has floundered, settling for a back-up role.
It’s hard to place fault towards Aidy’s direction, though. Gary McAllister, who gave White his debut against Crystal Palace back in 2008, was a keen advocate of playing the Otley born boy in his favoured position of left-back. The following three managers weren’t as keen to offer him an extended opportunity there. Under Simon Grayson, White’s position altered from full-back to winger on a regular basis, refusing to allow any opportunity to grow in a settled position. His loan at Oldham under former Leeds-striker Paul Dickov saw similar disruptions, including the occasional performance on the right-wing, a trait that Neil Warnock also opted for. Throughout his developing years, Aidy has been refused the opportunity to consistently play in a settled position in order to learn by example. Limiting opportunities in his favoured position has damaged his growth as a player. At just 21, all is not lost, but time is quickly running out. It is clear that reaching White’s potential is dependent on how much exposure to a fixed role he can receive. It proves to be food for thought- something Brian McDermott needs to consider. General consensus dictates Aidy performs best as a left-back, a position boasting five recruits at Elland Road. Opportunities at Leeds in such a fashion could be limited.
Ireland’s Under-21 manager Noel King has been full of praise for the 21 year old, calling him a ‘revelation’, one that will break into the senior side ‘sooner rather than later’. Alongside the pursuit of his acquisition by Blackpool, Aidy is far from short of admirers despite the frustrations he’s encountered at Leeds, and at 21 still has the chance to progress into a quality left-back if afforded the chance. As one of the few saleable assets in the playing staff, McDermott has to consider the possibility of allowing White to fulfil his potential elsewhere or offer him the opportunity of a settled chance in his chosen left-back spot. Opposing these avenues will only lead to Leeds holding on to a player labelled ‘the man that could’ve been’ and missing out on a lump cash sum, whilst Aidy loses grasp of reaching his full potential.
Reporter – Liam Kirby