The decline has been gradual at Arsenal but last season they hit their lowest, and it was definite; to change their fortunes, they have to invest in the squad. Defensively in particular, Arsenal were never going to escape after that came to pass as one of their weakest areas.
So far, the club has confirmed the signing of Nuno Tavares from Benfica, a left back, who will also act as cover for the very impressive but injury-prone Kieran Tierney. Still, the need for a center-back was clear, with the departure of the erratic David Luiz and William Saliba clearly not in Mikel Arteta’s plans. Just when Arsenal’s scouting and spending ability was being pout to question, the Gunners have proven they still got class.
They’ve gone for Ben White, with the deal set for completion, of course after two failed bids. A £50m asking price from Brighton for their prized asset also being eyed by Leeds United may be big on paper but what he offers on the pitch makes him worth every cent of it.
Having spent a year on loan at Leeds United as the team gained promotion, it was expected that Marcelo Bielsa would make a move for the defender. Brighton would hear none of their £25m bid. After one season, his transfer fee has doubled and Arsenal, very needy in that department were forced to dig deep in their pockets for the England international.
Arsenal do not have the burdens that come with European football, and though it means they miss the financial windfall, it will be a good time for White to get inducted in the team.
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The Gunners will be looking to improve not only on the pitch but in terms of confidence rating from their fans after the poor showing last season. So, what are some of the qualities Ben White brings to The Emirates Stadium?
With his value doubling over the last one season, this must be a really good player, regardless of the fact he didn’t feature at all at Euro 2020. Firstly, his ability to play the ball from behind will fit in well with Arteta’s style and will give Arsenal an edge in possession, which they’ve lacked in recent seasons.
His ability to carry the ball and initiate attacks has over the years been complemented by his fine passing range. This is one area David Luiz was expected to flourish in at Arsenal but he didn’t, while at times was erratic.
It is his passing range that also makes White comfortable playing in multiple positions and gives him an advantage over his contemporaries. Last season, at Brighton, he played as a center-back, right-back, right wing-back and defensive midfielder. These are attributes that make him worth £50m and Arsenal will really do with such a player.
While Brighton struggled a bit last season, the defender’s accuracy with sliding tackles and ball winning placed him above most of his mates, while his versatility was indicated as the biggest quality in earning a call up to the Euro finals. This is clearly the player Arsenal needs.