Arsenal are closing in on their second signing of this summer’s transfer window with the capture of Brighton & Hove Albion centre-back Ben White.
As reported elsewhere over the last few days, football.london understands that the Gunners have reached a £50million agreement with Brighton to land the highly-rated 23-year-old England international.
Personal terms between Arsenal and White are understood to have been agreed several weeks ago, meaning that now a transfer fee between the two clubs has been agreed upon the deal should soon be completed, allowing Gunners manager Mikel Arteta to tick off another box on his summer to-do list, as he continues to oversee one of the biggest squad overhauls carried out at the Emirates Stadium in recent years.
According to a report by The Sunday Times, White, who was part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad that reached the final of Euro 2020, even though he did not play a single minute of football at the tournament, a medical is due to take place in the not too distant future.
Should White successfully pass that without any late snags or hitches being encountered, he could soon be unveiled as an Arsenal player, meaning Arteta will have solved his centre-back problem.
However, although White is recognised as a central-defender, given his success playing in that position for both Brighton and Leeds United in the last two seasons, the former Peterborough United loanee does have the ability to play in central defensive-midfield if required.
Whilst on loan at Elland Road in the 2019/20 campaign, White frequently moved out of defence and into the centre of midfield when Kalvin Phillips was either injured or suspended. He thrived in that role and certainly justified Marcelo Bielsa’s decision to play him there.
Last season, according to transfermarkt’s data, White played in defensive-midfield on seven occasions.
With that said, White could solve two of Arsenal’s transfer missions this summer himself, as he will offer flexibility and versatility to operate in both roles if Arteta needs him to, although he is certain to be added to the squad with strengthening the central-defensive position in mind.
And that is a sentiment that Brighton boss Graham Potter would agree with. Although the Seagulls chief will be gutted to be losing White from his squad, he has already admitted that he believes White will become a seasoned central-defender.
“It’s hard to predict someone’s career but I think Ben has got the capability to play a few positions,” said the Albion boss last season. “But if I’m guessing now I think he will end up as a central-defender, of course.
“That’s his best position, that’s where he has played most of his games.
“I think he probably enjoyed the midfield role, probably a bit more against Crystal Palace [in October 2020] because of the type of role it was.
“But I still felt he contributed well in the first half (against West Brom), recovered balls and gave us some balance.
“He has got the capability but I think if I’m going to a betting man I’d say centre-back of those positions will be his main position.”
With Potter having admitted that he believes White is more suited to playing at centre-back, it still offers Arteta the ability to mix things up if required.
However, with Arsenal being heavily linked with the likes of fellow Brighton star Yves Bissouma, Ruben Neves of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sassuolo ace Manuel Locatelli, it seems pretty certain that White will join Arsenal as a centre-back.
Still, being able to play in more than one position could certainly come in useful at some stage, meaning Arteta could have the advantage of tactical flexibility when it comes to facing certain opponents.
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Source by Football London