Arsenal closing in on Ben White: Where will he fit in?
Arsenal are on the verge of completing a move for Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White, as per a report from The Athletic.
After their first bid was rejected, the Gunners have come back with a second offer. The Englishman was one of the best players for the Seagulls last season and his stellar form saw him included in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Euros.
According to the report, the Gunners and Brighton are close to agreeing on a fee that is said to be worth £50millon. The Gunners are willing to pay a fee of £45millon and include five more million as add-ons. The Seagulls are not keen on this structure as they want the fee to be paid in full.
With the Gunners likely to make their first signing of the summer, it is necessary to look at where the defender will fit in. The England international is a versatile player capable of playing different positions. Let us take a look at three possible ways in which Mikel Arteta could make use of White.
This is the most obvious option as that is where the 23-year-old has played for the majority of his career and the Englishman would be a natural replacement for David Luiz who left after his contract expired.
Like the Brazilian, White is an excellent passer who can help build attacks with his vision. The Gunners like to play out from the back and having someone who can pick out a target 50 yards or so away is a boon.
The transition from the Amex Stadium to the Emirates would not be that difficult as Graham Potter and Arteta have similarities in their tactical approach. Using the right side of defence to progress the ball gives more freedom to those on the left.
This is particularly useful at Arsenal who normally have Kieran Tierney always willing to go forward. White can send in pinpoint passes all day long and it is one of his most useful skills.
The Englishman has played in this position on occasion, but it could be what Arteta has in store. As we saw last season, the Gunners boss likes to have the right side full-back tuck in and be more conservative.
This was evident towards the end of the campaign where Calum Chambers was preferred to Hector Bellerin and with the Spaniard likely to leave, it opens up a position where White can fit in.
It will not be his usual position but the defender has the technical qualities required to succeed. The 23-year-old is deceptively quick and has a good recovery pace which is essential for a full-back. By using the Brighton star this way, the north Londoners might find a solution that allows them to keep hold of William Saliba.
This position makes a lot more sense than some might think as it comes naturally to White. He can slot in a midfield role where his passing becomes even more potent.
With Granit Xhaka closing in on a move away to Roma, perhaps this is the role that the 23-year-old is going to fill. Learning under the great Marcelo Bielsa has given the Englishman the tactical knowledge needed to play higher up the pitch.
Doing this will also free some of the defensive responsibility placed on Thomas Partey. The Ghanaian can roam forward with confidence knowing that he has someone to cover for him. Out of three roles this is probably the least likely option, but it is good to have players that can be used in different ways.
The Gunners are getting a great talent in White, and it is exciting to see how the youngster will be used. One question that this arrival brings up is the future of Saliba.
If the north Londoners can keep hold of both the defenders, it would benefit them a lot. The Frenchman can slowly be integrated into the team while the Brighton man plays a bigger role. Arsenal have made a good start to the summer with the transfer of White and hopefully, there is more to come.