Mikel Arteta is desperate to bring Ben White to Arsenal this summer, and the £50m deal that will lure him to Brighton now looks imminent.
White, after a fantastic season with Amex and a memorable Euro 2020 campaign with England – although he didn’t get on the pitch – has had a short break and now looks set to become Arsenal’s latest newcomer.
In the end it took three tries to seal the switch, with Brighton holding out by rejecting bids of £40m and then £47m with various add-ons. But in the end, their appreciation is met and White, 23, moves on.
Arsenal to officially announce the signing of Brighton’s Ben White (right) for £50m
Gabriel Magalhaes (left) and Rob Holding (right) will struggle with White to keep their places
This may very well turn out to be a match made in heaven. After all, Arsenal are in the midst of a major rebuild under Arteta, and the club’s focus is on enjoying long-term success. White fits seamlessly into those plans.
The price tag is big, but represents a wise investment for a player whose best days are ahead of him. He may lack experience on the biggest stages, but White is a truly modern centre-back.
His ability to play cool from behind will bring a whole new dimension to Arsenal for the next campaign, and White isn’t afraid to push on and help with the flow of attacks too. Supporters have plenty to be excited about.
So, as Arsenal get closer to an official announcement, Sports post has taken a close look at White and compared him to his potential new teammates…
Mikel Arteta was desperate for White and the centre-back is a perfect fit for Arsenal
What are White’s strengths?
A defender’s primary job is of course to keep the ball out of the net, but Arsenal and boss Arteta will expect much more than White’s. Their new man is comfortable in possession, and that will be the key.
During his 36 appearances for Brighton in the Premier League last season, White was able to read the game brilliantly and then attack with the right choice of pass. Now he will have to hone this ability further.
Arteta is a very modern coach, one who demands that all his players, including the goalkeeper, are all proficient in possession. Therefore, his central defenders are an important part of the forward game.
White is cool and in control in possession and his passing will help Arsenal’s attacks
However, this was a problem for his team and there is hope that White will be the solution they need. The talented youngster certainly has all the qualities to do so, and is also known for his silky smooth control.
Another area Arteta wants to work on next season is erasing his players’ sloppy mistakes. There have already been a handful of them in preparation and the club will have to pay a heavy price if they continue.
The good news is that in his 82 league appearances for Brighton and Leeds over the past two seasons, White has not made a mistake leading to a shot from the opponent – showing that he can balance risk and reward.
England international White is also adept at reading the game and falling deep to sweep up
White will also have no problems with his physicality. During his loan spells at Newport County and Peterborough in particular, he experienced several robust styles of play further up the league pyramid.
That meant that when the top flight came to Brighton, White was perfectly equipped to tackle tackles, make fouls and force himself all over the pitch. Teams can empathize as they break into Arsenal, but white will help stop this.
He is also incredibly versatile, offering Arteta some welcome flexibility in choosing his teams. White was deployed as a defensive midfielder at Leeds, playing in both full back positions for Newport.
Arsenal and Arteta will admire White’s talent for progressive passing as well as his tough tackling
It is widely believed that White’s greatest strength is his anticipation. His talent for keeping a close eye on and then clearing the threat to him will help Arsenal play more of the forefront.
Often acting as the anchor for Brighton’s defenders, White was tasked with sweeping up from the deep, both central and in the canals, and he welcomed this burden with open arms and showed outstanding leadership skills.
Finally, his range of passes is another string on his bow. Whether it’s a short rollout to the feet or a long, close game, White can do it all. Arteta will admire this progressive character, and so will the crowds in the Emirates.
Are there weaknesses?
Like any player still learning his trade, there are several cracks in White’s armor. However, he is well on his way to smoothing these out, which is another reason Arsenal were willing to put the money on him.
White seems to be missing from the air from time to time and this department will have to be worked on to make Arteta’s team a more formidable force of nature this season. He is rarely bullied, but there is definitely room for improvement.
The £50m fee, while not at all his fault, may also weigh on his shoulders. It’s an impressive figure for a player who is still growing, but also strong evidence that Arsenal believe he can become a true world beater.
White’s game needs some work in the air and he got a little behind last season
It’s just not true to label White as slow, but he won’t be one of the fastest players in the club either. This has rarely affected his game, so brilliant is his awareness, but he will have to be wary of balls being sent over his shoulder.
There is also a small downside to his experience. Having played regularly in the Premier League and making his debut for England, White has pretty much seen it all, but stepping up to the Champions League is an entirely different proposition.
With his affable disposition and infectious smile, it won’t be long before White settles into his new environment. But it wouldn’t hurt him to get some time, with this new move being the biggest challenge of his career so far.
How does he compare to his teammates?
White is expected to fall straight into the heart of Arsenal’s defense next season, and it’s not hard to see why. This is because he outclasses his new centre-back teammates in almost every area of the latest top campaign.
In terms of appearances, White made the most with 36. Rob Holding, a surprise avid for the club, made 30, with Gabriel Magalhaes and Pablo Mari behind them at 23 and 10 respectively.
The most important metric for a defender is clean sheets and White shares this mantle with Holding. They both earned 11 last term, while Gabriel left the group with six and Mari’s four behind them.
It is Holding who reigns supreme for most tackles within an average of 90 minutes. White thundered in 1.38, but Holding trumped him with 1.51. Mari is also ahead of the new man by 1.50, while Gabriel has 1.13.
White has the better of his new teammates in many areas and should be a guaranteed starter
|statistic||Ben White||Gabriel Magalhaes||Rob Holding||Pablo Mari|
|Tackles per 90||1.38||1.13||1.51||1.50|
|Interceptions per 90||1.75||1.17||0.84||0.90|
|Dribbling per 90||0.68||0.23||0.28||0.30|
|Chances created per 90||0.23||0.09||0.14||0.20|
Back comes White, who has recorded the highest number of interceptions per 90 minutes on average. He leads this list with 1.75, while Gabriel is second with 1.17. Mari, meanwhile, made 0.90 and Holding brought in 0.84.
White’s prowess in delivering the ball has already been highlighted and to no surprise, he comfortably made the most dribbles averaging 0.68. On the back, Mari is at 0.30, while Holding has 0.28 and Gabriel at 0.23.
The top of the created chances per 90 is also white. A cool and collected figure in the back, he set 0.23 last season, with Mari being the only teammate close to him at 0.20. Then Holding has 0.14 and Gabriel is further behind at 0.09.