Alas, after just over two weeks of speculation and petering close to the edge of numerous deals being completed, Arsenal are close to a deal being completed for Ben White for a fee worth £50m.
There is a lot of concern over how much money Ben White is set to cost Mikel Arteta’s side. When it was murmured to be beyond £50m, it might have been time to pull the brakes.
But how much do you have to pay these days for an England international, no matter how much that is in its infancy, with Premier League experience behind them? The answer is a lot.
Arteta has made it abundantly clear that a right-sided centre-back is a priority position for this summer transfer window. Despite the return of William Saliba, who looks set for another loan move away from north London and the new long-term contract Rob Holding signed six months ago, David Luiz’s departure left a void.
Arsenal to seal £50m Ben White transfer from Brighton as Mikel Arteta’s first signing of the summer transfer window
It’s one that others can fill, yet not as seamlessly as the Brighton defender.
As reported by The Athletic’s David Ornstein and followed up by Charles Watts, Arsenal have made considerable ground in their pursuit of the 23-year-old with a deal almost at the finish line with just final agreements over the structure of the transfer to be completed.
The Gunners are looking to bid £45m upfront with the remaining £5m included as add-ons, with the Seagulls wanting reassurances that £50m will make its way to the AMEX Stadium. In other words, more certainty on the achievability of those add-ons.
Other interested parties are looking at White this summer – Liverpool were keen on him last year following his excellent loan spell at Leeds – but the impression from the other clubs is that Arsenal are well in front and will secure his signature.
Is this reason to be excited? It should be. White is precisely the profile of player Arsenal should be gunning for in terms of his attributes, homegrown status, age and development potential. A possession-based central defender who can fulfill the tasks Luiz could as well as add more athletic and technical qualities, he will bring a new dimension to the defence.
Additionally, his arrival could springboard Arsenal into Arteta’s preferred 4-3-3 formation. His signing alone won’t kick-start the shift but it opens the potential to do so.
Nobody expected Arsenal to fork out £50m on a player this season, which means nobody in their right mind thought they’d do so on a centre-back. For such a considerable outlay, it can only means that the transfer kitty is fairly well stocked for the coming campaign and this isn’t another Petr Cech and…..nobody else scenario.
Setting out their targets and going gung-ho for them, it’s a step in the right direction. We’ll not mention Saliba all-too much here. Everyone wanted him to be the man to solidify the defence for next season, it just isn’t happening, therefore it’s best to look at what will be happening, which looks all the world to be a £50m Ben White.