Forever ‘edging closer’, the overriding consensus is now that Arsenal will secure the addition of Ben White this summer; in turn becoming the most expensive defender in the club’s history by overtaking the £35m spent on Shkodran Mustafi.
Interest in White took off after initial claims were met with the right amount of apprehension, going from apparent speculative nonsense to undoubted seriousness. Lodging a £40m bid for the Brighton centre-back, Arsenal’s newest offer is due imminently.
Whether it will be enough to land the player considered worthy of the outlay remains to be seen with his current club eyeing as close to £50m as they can, but the expectancy is that he will be donning the red and white soon enough.
Once England conclude their European Championship adventure the deal could be wrapped up, although constructive talks with the player and his representatives may see the move completed earlier.
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White is an exciting defender nonetheless. Removing the price tag, he is multi-faceted and multi-functional, offering Arsenal many of the qualities they will be starved of following David Luiz’s departure, with the added benefit of age, fitness, athleticism and speed.
In the modern game and especially in Mikel Arteta’s system, having players who you can build from in the heart of defence is vital to ensuring the forwards can occupy the advanced spaces where they can be most effective.
A centre-back who can play through people, around people and over people through a range of passing styles and carrying ability ensures quicker progression can occur deep inside your own half.
Finishing the season strongly in a 4-2-3-1, Arteta had seemingly been able to crack the safe that was holding back the Gunners’ potential. Admittedly, a favourable Premier League run-in helped during that spell.
However, it has always been Arteta’s long-term desire to move into a 4-3-3 formation at some stage. Dabbling with it on occasion last season with different shades of the setup, it became clear that the personnel at his disposal were not the right bodies to fulfill that remit.
He said so himself to Nacho González, via Football365: “We want to move to a 4-3-3 but for that, you need a lot of specificity in every position but now in five or six positions, we don’t have it. The aggressiveness, the effectiveness, the amount of steals we make in opposition half I think we have been very steady against some big clubs”.
Is White one of the players he’s referring to?