The North London side have signed Brighton & Hove Albion’s talismanic center-back Ben White for a massive amount of £50m.
Mikel Arteta’s side are struggling to perform at the level they were used to performing in the Arsene Wenger era. Arsenal haven’t qualified for the Champions League since the 2016/17 season, and they were at their lowest in the 2020/21 season, finishing 8th in the table (thanks to a good run of form in the last few matches). Cometh the new season; they will be in the quest of attaining a top-4 spot in the English Premier League and eventually play in the UCL next season.
In the course of rebuilding the team, Arteta needs the right kind of players who can flourish in his system, and Ben White certainly looks like one of those, and he has the regular Premier League experience.
What will White add to this Arsenal team?
The 23-year old has loads of attributes in his game. He has raw pace, his passing skills are one of the best amongst the center-backs in the Premier League. The defender had an 83.2% pass success rate in the Premier League last season while spreading 2.3 long balls per game and 0.2 key passes per match. Ben White likes to dribble, and he’s very proficient in beating the opposition press with his dribbling skills which is a statement on how composed he is on the ball. He completed 0.7 dribbles per game, which is the best amongst any center-back in the league.
Mikel Arteta prefers to play from the back and build the attack with short passes breaking the opposition lines. David Luiz was their best player for this role, and his departure made it a necessity for Arsenal to go for a center-back who can fill that role. Ben White is adept in threading short passes between the lines and linking up with the midfielders, which Arteta wants in his playing eleven. With his full-season experience with Brighton at the top level, it will be easier for him to adapt to the Gunners system.
Another additional quality in the English defender’s game is ‘versatility.’ He has played as a Right center-back in a back 3, a CB in a back four, a Right-Back, and even a defensive midfielder. His adaptability in various roles also makes him a potential England starter soon, whereas Arteta can use this as a valuable asset in his team. He played in the championship for Leeds United on loan in the 2019/20 season and was one of the main assets in their return to the Premier League. The legendary Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa admires Ben White, and he wanted to sign him on a permanent deal for ‘the Peacocks’ last season but Graham Potter’s side refused to sell him. When a manager like Bielsa has someone as his main target, then you can easily figure out how good that player must be.
Although Ben White does have some weaknesses in his game, more precisely, He’s not great at winning aerial duels. He won 49% of his aerial duels last season, which is quite low for the standards of a center-back in the Premier League. But the young defender will only improve with the right coaching, and his huge frame will help him get stronger as he grows older.
The Gunners have acquired a player for the present and the future who can enlighten the Emirates and help them achieve their goals of returning to the top level and win titles.