The Yorkshire side notably waved goodbye to long-serving full-back, Luke Ayling earlier in January, with the 32-year-old – who had signed from Bristol City back in 2016 – sealing a loan move to Middlesbrough with just six months remaining on his existing deal at Elland Road.
The experienced Englishman was not the only full-back that manager Daniel Farke nudged toward the exit door, with the club also taking the decision to cut short Djed Spence’s loan move from Tottenham Hotspur, with the 23-year-old having made just five league starts in the first half of the season.
These notable departures have seemingly heightened the need for Farke and Co to bolster the backline before the window slams shut in just a weeks time, with strength in depth needed if the club are to continue their bid for automatic promotion.
According to recent reports, the Whites could look toward the Premier League to find potential additions this month, having been linked with a loan move for a figure who could emulate the success of a certain Ben White in a Leeds shirt.
Leeds “working on a deal” for Premier League ace
As per journalist Pete O’Rourke, the Elland Road outfit are said to be “working on a deal” to sign Everton defender, Ben Godfrey, with the Englishman potentially in line to make a temporary move to Yorkshire in order to reunite with his former Norwich City boss, Farke.
In his attached piece for Football Insider, O’Rourke goes on to reveal that talks have already taken place between Leeds and the Toffees regarding an initial loan deal that would include an obligation to buy, with Sean Dyche said to have given the ‘green light’ regarding the 26-year-old’s exit.
As per the same publication, the £75k-per-week centre-back – who moved to Merseyside on a £20m deal back in 2020 – had previously looked set to join Serie A side, Atalanta, prior to that switch collapsing, thus allowing Farke to pounce to snap up his former asset.
Leeds United could well add a new winger to their squad to upgrade on Wilfried Gnonto this month.
Ben Godfrey could be the next Ben White
Leeds previously reaped the rewards of signing an exciting talent on loan from the Premier League back in 2019, with the aforementioned White arriving from Brighton and Hove Albion to help steer Marcelo Bielsa’s side to promotion.
Much like Godfrey – who can operate at centre-back, full-back or in central midfield – the Poole-born star offered real versatility and flexibility to Bielsa’s side, albeit while predominantly featuring at centre-back during that 2019/20 campaign.
The 6 foot 1 machine started all 46 Championship games that season, scoring once and providing two assists, with former Leeds man Danny Mills hailing him as “one of the best defenders” in the division at the time.
Such was White’s success, the Yorkshire side were even believed to be willing to fork out £25m to sign him in that summer of 2020, yet Brighton’s £50m price tag ultimately proved a major stumbling block, as he stayed put at the Amex.
While the current Arsenal man arrived at Elland Road as an emerging talent, unlike the 26-year-old Godfrey, the latter man could still make the most of that drop into the Championship, having made just three appearances in all competitions for his current side to date.
A further benefit of Godfrey’s arrival would also be his familiarity with Farke, with the German manager previously heaping praise on the then-youngster during their time together at Carrow Road, after converting him from a midfielder to a central defender:
“I have the feeling when he gets used to this position and can have more games to learn the decision-making in the last row because it is different, he has all the ingredients to be an outstanding centre back, world-class.”
The 6 foot brute’s lack of game time at Goodison Park is a stark indication that he hasn’t realised that ‘world-class’ potential, yet under the guidance of Farke, he could well follow in White’s footsteps by making a real name for himself at Leeds.
Ben Godfrey’s record under Daniel Farke
Having joined Norwich from his hometown club York City back in 2016, Godfrey went on to make 78 appearances for the club in all competitions over the next four years – 72 of those outings coming during Farke’s stint at the helm.
The one-time Shrewsbury Town loanee was particularly impressive during the Canaries’ promotion charge in 2018/19 after scoring four goals and providing two assists in 31 second-tier appearances.
Ben Godfrey’s 2018/19 Championship season in numbers
31 games (26 starts)
1.8 tackles & interceptions per game
90% pass accuracy rate
0.3 key passes per game
63% ground duels won
57% total duels won
7.03 avg. match rating
That was followed by a further 30 league outings the following season following the club’s promotion to the Premier League, Godfrey evidently doing enough to catch the of those at Everton, leading to his £20m summer switch.
With that move having since failed to work out, however, the two-cap England international may be in need of a familiar face like Farke to revive his fortunes, with the Leeds boss previously stating that the defender could have a “great, great career“.
That familiarity doesn’t always necessarily mean that a move will be a success, yet with Godfrey previously playing his part in a Norwich side that claimed automatic promotion under Farke’s watch, he could well bring that experience to those at Elland Road.