Arsenal have announced the signing of £50m centreback, Ben White, from Brighton.
Yes, that’s right, Arsenal really have spent £50m on a centreback.
Speaking to the official site, Arteta said: “Ben was a top target for us and it’s great that we’ve completed his signing. Ben has been educated with two very good clubs, Brighton and Leeds, in recent seasons. He has benefitted well from two very good coaching set-ups and has shown with both Brighton and on loan with Leeds what a strong talent he is.
“Ben is an intelligent defender who is very comfortable with the ball at his feet and his style fits perfectly with us. And of course, he is still young, so his age and profile fits with what we are building here. We are all looking forward to Ben being central to our future long-term plans.”
White will wear the number 4 shirt at Arsenal.
Released from Southampton and picked up by Brighton in 2014, White had loan spells at Newport County, Peterborough United and, most notably, Leeds United, helping Marcelo Bielsa’s side earn promotion to the Premier League in the 2019/20 campaign after a sixteen-year absence from the top-flight division.
Following an impressive loan spell at Elland Road, the Yorkshire outfit were keen on making his deal permanent 12 months ago. Despite offering three bids for White, with the final offer believed to be within the region of £25 million, Marcelo Bielsa’s side were unable to prize him away from The Amex Stadium.
Subsequently, White enjoyed a fantastic debut Premier League season under Graham Potter, breaking into the first team at the Amex Stadium and proving one of the top-flight’s leading performers in 2020-21. Making 39 appearances in all competitions last season, helping his side keep 12 clean sheets in the Premier League, White’s excellent form earned him a place in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man England squad for the Euros, following the withdrawal of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold when he sustained a thigh injury during England’s first pre-tournament friendly against Austria on June 2.
White has predominantly been utilised by Potter on the right side of a back three alongside captain Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster within Graham Potter’s heavily favoured 3-4-1-2 formation but also operated at times in the right-back position in Tariq Lamptey’s extended absence through injury.
Additionally, White has shown himself to be equally adept within a defensive midfield role. This is a position he has played and excelled in on numerous occasions under both Bielsa and Potter at Leeds and Brighton respectively in recent seasons, also impressing in this position recently as a substitute during England’s pre-tournament friendly against Austria.
White’s versatility is certainly something that will appeal to Arteta and will slot straight into the back four in Arteta’s preferred 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation. However, his versatility and experience in operating within a back three would also give Arteta’s side more tactical flexibility, allowing the Spaniard the option of using White either on the right side or centre of back three within either a more pragmatic 3-4-3 or 3-4-2-1 approach against the more dangerously offensive sides in comparison to Arteta’s more conventional 4-2-3-1 formation.
White’s composure, versatility, consistency, raw ability, and strong defensive capabilities means he would prove a significant upgrade on the likes of Rob Holding and Calum Chambers as the Gunners seek strengthen their first XI.