Do Arsenal Really Need Another Defender? No but Ben White is Much More

By all accounts Arsenal are close to signing Ben White from BHA for a huge amount of money, reportedly around the £50m mark. If money is tight then that seems a weird choice by Arteta and Co. Surely, Arsenal could really do with a quality ‘nr10’ type or a tall beast of a CF instead?!

Arsenal to sign Brighton’s Ben White in £50m deal – BBC Sport

We don’t know what the club’s plans are this summer and how much it is willing/allowed to spend. We have been linked again with Aouar and a return of Odegaard seems also on the cards. I was also pleased to see us being linked with Tammy Abraham who I rate highly.

But why spend so much money on another defender? If you look at this footage of Ben you may get an idea.

Ben White | A Rolls-Royce of a Centre Back | 19/20 Highlights – YouTube

Arteta has of course a vision of football for Arsenal, and key to it all is being able to build up the game from the back. For this he has relied a lot on Xhaka and also Partey rather than his central defenders. But getting this done mainly from midfield slows us down as they will have to find space and the defence needs to be able to get the ball to them quickly and accurately. Mari, Holding and Big Gab are decent at this but certainly not great. Rob is probably best at playing out from the back but I am pretty sure Arteta wants more. Holding’s final ball is below par and he seems to get over-cooked when he is blasting forwards.

Ben White

Now look at how White runs so well with the ball. He is fast, very ball-tight and his final pass is razor sharp. This is exactly what Arsenal have been missing and having such a threat from the centre of defence as well as the flanks (through Tierney and co) will make us play a very different game. White is not the tallest but seems to have a good jump and timing when he is defending set-pieces. Furthermore, he is a strong and fast tackler and puts his body on the line. Actually, White reminds me a bit of Thomas the Verminator in his best years for Arsenal.

He is right-sided CB and we do need an extra man there. Holding and White can compete for the RCB spot but I can also see them both play in a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 formation.

I trust Arteta to make the right budget choices and Ben White may well the man he wants more than anybody else, right now.

Let’s wait till it’s formally announced at Arsenal.com but I am all for White joining us this summer.

By TotalArsenal.

41 thoughts on “Do Arsenal Really Need Another Defender? No but Ben White is Much More

  • Thanks Total. That is an impressive highlights reel. Passes like Luiz, tackles like Holding and brings the ball out like the great Franz Beckenbauer. Yes, as you noted, shades of Tommy V in there. Looks very quick, too. And he is young. What’s not to like? Build from the back…
    I didn’t like those two goals conceded against Rangers. Perhaps our set piece coach is still on holiday?

  • It’s good to see a new post in the pre-season, and the topic of Ben White is highly adequate.
    There are a few thing I agree from the post and a few parts I don’t.

    I have no doubt that Ben is a fine player, and (finally) a solid passer.
    (However a nice compilation doesn’t tell the whole story; watch this about Mustafi – he seems like the top defender in the PL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh2BwP2rXWs)
    Furthermore I perfectly agree that White in the team would improve the process of building up the game from the back.
    And since you didn’t say/write/hint that this was the most pressing issue for the recent lack of success, we don’t have a disagreement here either.

    Nevertheless I do challenge if we needed defensive reinforcements at all, especially in a form of a relatively low CB, when 3 of the 4 goals already conceded in the pre-season were headers.
    It is also disputed if we need an extra RCB. Chambers could also compete with Holding (OK, he’s not tall either), and we would still have Bellerin (so far), Soares and Tavares as options at RB/RWB if Calum plays RCB. And even if we one would disqualify Chambers as RCB and insist on having a backup RCB, the only reason we have a single player for the position, because Arteta got rid of Mavropanos and Saliba – both talented, tall, success-hungry players with cheap salaries, already on Arsenal books and the Frenchman is also a fine passer.

    I envy your faith that you trust Arteta to make the right budget choices, as not only Arsenals long years of poorly disposing players seem to continue (or rather shifted into a higher gear), but also our signings give some reasons to concern (Rúnarsson, Willian). Anyway, the transfer window will be open for a while, so let’s not talk about funeral until there is a body. Signing White could become a fine business unless it will happen on the expense of a quality midfielder, so let’s hope that 2 out of Aouar, Camavinga and Koopmeiners will still be joining (apart from Sambi Lokonga), in which case Ben could be assessed for his true contributions, without going too deep into “what if…”

    I consider myself a die hard Arsenal fan, so if White joins I will genuinely root for him from the beginning (as well as the team) to turn out a success. But I’m in a win-win position already, as if Ben will prove to be cog we were missing then Champions League awaits. On the other hand if he wouldn’t manage to redeem the defense (and/or improve the quality and frequency of chances – which seemed to be the critical weakness in recent years) albeit making him the 4th most expensive CB in history, THUS missing out on midfield reinforcements, then there is an increasing chance that Arteta’s tenure will come to an untimely end, and based on his performance (including, but not limited to his approach to Ozil, Nelson, Martinelli, Guendouzi, Nketiah – and possibly Willock, Xhaka and Torreira) he will not work for a decent club for a long time – possibly ever again.

  • Thanks Stuart. Yes a bit of Franzl in there as well!

    It was indeed disappointing to concede two goals from headers but as it is still early in the season, I am not yet worried about it.

    What is the weather like at your place and how is the C19 situation?

  • Cheers, PB. It is a bit of a gamble of course, and it could turn out to be an expensive one…. but yes I trust Arteta to get this one right.

    How is the weather in Budapest and the C19 situation right now?

  • TA, my positive view is that I felt like the last thing we needed was central defenders, but if the club would spend like that for Ben White, maybe they really want to invest to get back for champions league money. You know money is all they really care about. They cannot be stupid enough to blow most of their transfer fund on a position where we’re so well stocked. I assume the budget is large for midfield. But all of those defenders Pb mentioned we have already! I’m sure we have to sell either Holding or Chambers.

    Pb, as usual makes so much sense to me. The list of players thatve HAD to be jettisoned for one reason or another is a little worrying under Arteta. I think we need at least 2 midfielders, central, unless they want to get a strong number 10 and let Smith Rowe get in some work at 8. I think he can do that.
    Also, when we talk about the high ceiling for White, Saliba was a very coveted prospect, supposedly great passer and with size and pace. Not to mention, less expensive, and already on our books.

    I have a deep seeded fear that Mikel might really be a disaster in dealing with players personally, and I’ll add Emi Martinez to Pbs list.

    I hope we cash in on Bellerin finally, although he is steady, there is absolutely no upside. If we’re signing a rb, and I’m very happy with Cedric. AMN should be sold if we haven’t ruined his market value… and he should
    want to leave too. I can’t believe we’re talking about loaning Willock. Such miscalculation by the club again. He’ll never be worth more than now. Never. Screenshot this if you think I might be wrong.
    I’m not.

  • Hi J,
    If the (potential) record signing of White doesn’t mean the de-prioritization of midfield reinforcements but in fact the total opposite: indicating the club’s seriousness of buying quality players to get back to the Champions League and fight for the title, then I’m also optimistic. The next month will tell.
    Good point on Martinez. Emi not only managed to become the goalkeeper of the PL season and a full fledged Argentina international, but also picked up a Copa America title and became the 7th most valuable goalkeeper of the world in the process. Kudos ti him, and the joke is on us. However I’m not sure there was an scenario keeping both him and Leno at the club, so I can’t blame this solely on Arteta, but it is sad that only a year after having Bernd (#14) and Emi (#7) in the squad we are considering Ramsdale (#41) and Johnstone (#64) as saviors to our goalkeeping woes.

    I’m afraid you are spot on about Willock, too. He had an unbelievable couple of months at the end of last season making him a popular commodity in the Premier League, but unless we change the system of play there seem to be place for this type of energetic box-to-box midfielder. (The pre-season experiments with 4-4-2 didn’t prove to be success stories so far, however Arsenal created tons of chances, but most of them were wasted, so maybe it can still become a reasonable formation. Nevertheless the 4 ST we have in the first team is just insane without playing in Europe).
    Fun fact: according to TransferMarkt Arsenal has only one CM in the first team. And that is Willock. We have 4 DMs (Partey, Xhaka, Torreira, Elneny), while AMN is ‘filed’ under RM and Saka is considered LM (even though he mostly played RW).

    We need to seriously trim the squad, especially as we (me at least) would like 2-3 from Aouar, Camavinga, Koopmeiners and Lokonga to join the team. While I’m a stubborn a boring advocate of small squads I think it is evident that keeping Elneny, Torreira, AMN and Willock will not bolster our tactical options but rather generate friction and stress for playtime.

  • Hi Total. I live in the “winterless north” of NZ. Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands. We pray for a couple of frosts a year for the sake of orchard hygiene. (Kills the bugs). It is now mid winter and I am in a t shirt. It is rainy which disrupts our local matches, yesterday we were rained off. Our clubs groundman is very careful with our pitches.
    Up here we have had no covid at all. We missed three games last season due to concerns over transmission but this season only the weather has caused interruptions. Similarly last year the church where I serve as a pastor had four Sundays when we could only allow 100 folk in to each service. This year we have had no restrictions. The far flung nature of our islands have given us an advantage, which has been improved by our populations committed response to taking precautions.
    My wife and middle son have just arrived back from the UK and are presently serving two weeks in quarantine. She was away for the entire EURO’s which meant I could watch every match without stressing my marriage…

  • Thanks for asking, TA.
    We had a couple weeks of heat in the region of 36-39 °C. But this weekend the rain and wind made even the high temperature bearable.

    On the Covid situation Hungary is doing quite well at the moment (especially compared to the terrible first 5 months of the year. In the last 4 weeks the mortality has been reduced to singe digit, often 0. So the pessimistic forecasts based on the full-house Euro2020 games proved to be false alarms.
    The vaccination rate is unfortunately practically stopped around 58%, but the delta plus variant is not yet dominant here, so maybe we can avoid or at least delay the 4th wave.

    I don’t know about the case in the UK – or actually any other country – but here we painfully miss the statistics about the new death distribution among the unvaccinated, not-yet-fully-immune and the vaccinated people of the different types of shots. I’m quite sure the data is available, so it is either a GDPR issue or the Hungarian government doesn’t want to go public with this data (we invested quite heavily in early Sputnik and Sinopharm vaccines). However I not only think these data would be interesting and useful to properly assess our protection, but the only way to convince the rest of the population to vaccinate themselves.

    What about Scotland? I only saw that the new cases are peaking, getting close to the level of the 3rd wave, but the mortality is still – relatively – low. Is that because of the 2-weeks delay in the process or rather the effect of the vaccines are indeed efficient in saving people from severe reactions against the delta (plus) variant?

    What about the pre-season matches? Did you manage to see any of the Scottish games live?

  • TA, I have a sneaky feeling that Arteta might stick White along with Partey. I ambivalent about this transfer and I couldn’t care if we get atleast two of Auoar, Ode, Madison, Neves and Locatelli. If we prefer to keep Willock then one of the above is good.
    I agree with PBs assent of Artetas handling of key players. He just doesn’t understand the meaning of Asset value. It buggars any belief that AFC is a professionally run club, if we cannot protect value of our academy stars like Willock, AMN, Nelson etal. It’s rediculous that we can spend money on Torriera and the find it difficult to offload him but not willing to give a decent run to AMN at the same position and increase his value. It’s just gross negligence and incompetence.

  • Pb, you are in Hungary? I’m dying to go there. I hear great things. We need to talk about it sometime. I’ll need some advice.

    On the Willock thing, when I said he’ll never be worth more than now, I’m saying that he has to go eventually. He has no place as a midfielder for us. His opportunistic goals (certainly as valuable as anyone’s goals)are the kind that come at the expense of fielding a useless midfielder. I’ve said it before, he’ll be a good player in the EFL. Good point about the squad size and no Europe. We seriously need to trim, mostly at the back but also should trim 1 Willian from the club. But seriously, he will lose even more motivation without champions league, where the younger guys like Martinelli, ESR, etc will be happy just to get playing time. Much better fit for a team rebuilding like us.

    Hi Madhu. I was calling for AMN to get midfield minutes last season early, and in the few runouts he got there, he was really disappointing. I said at the time that he suffered from having zero minutes of experience in midfield since we were only using him at FB. I think he has lots of natural talent, but I doubt he’ll get a chance with us in midfield. I hope he hasn’t lost the value he had a year ago. Arsenal are the world champions of depreciating player assets. Our best players go for free like Ramsey, or in disastrous ends like Alexis and Ozil. Every new addition begins losing value right after they have their physical with us.

  • Jync, i cannot believe that AMN would have contributed any less than Torriera who we are going to make a loss on. What’s the point of academy when even after so many years we don’t know what system willock can be useful. So what were the academy coaches developing him for. Willock is in Arsenal from 6 yrs and if today Arteta cannot utilize him in our system but Newcastle can where he scores 8 times surely there is a need to investigate what’s going on at the academy. Post Brexit if we don’t use our academy to our advantage we are destined to go into dustbin if history.
    Iam livid at the way we are clueless in how we run the club.

  • Feel free to contact me, J. Just put gmail and com after my username here.
    I’ll be happy to help. Maybe we can watch an Arsenal game together, depending on when and how long will you consider coming.

    On the trimming I would add a couple of strikers to the mix, even though I would strongly prefer a loan move over selling. Lacazette is in his prime, so I would rather stick with him, thus we could should either sell Aubameyang (obviously we cannot, as no club in its right mind would take a 32+ player with 350k salary – unless he is Lionel Messi), or redirect him back to left wing, but in this case we’ll have an issue with Saka, Willian, Pepe, Nelson and Martinelli – all competing for the ‘other’ winger spot. Even if Willian leaves – which is highly unlikely, no matter what Fabrizio Romano says – it will still demote Martinelli to the #4 position. So let’s hope for a win-win resolution in the attacking third, but keep in mind that isn’t how things usually turn out for Arsenal players…

  • Morning all,

    I’ve only seen White play a few times and never thought of him as an Arsenal, but I was really impressed with that highlight video – thanks for that TA. Based (only) on the video he certainly looks our type of player – the stated transfer fee seems high but I guess that’s what the current market demands.

  • This coming season I plan to run two competitions the first is based on the original idea from – I believe it was PB.

    I will list our games as shown below and all you have to do is predict whether we will win, lose or draw – indicate 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss. I will report back at the end of each group how many correct predictions you have made and what your overall points are versus your prediction. Also I will list the next group half way through the group we have all ready predicted on – hope this is clear.

    To show you a sample here are the first ten games.

    1 2021-08-13 Brentford v Arsenal -3
    2 2021-08-22 Arsenal v Chelsea – 1
    3 2021-08-28 Manchester City v Arsenal – 0
    4 2021-09-11 Arsenal v Norwich City – 3
    5 2021-09-18 Burnley v Arsenal – 3
    6 2021-09-26 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur – 3
    7 2021-10-02 Brighton v Arsenal- 3
    8 2021-10-16 Arsenal v Crystal Palace – 3
    9 2021-10-23 Arsenal v Aston Villa -1
    10 2021-10-30 Leicester v Arsenal – 1

    The groups will be as follows:-

    1 First Ten Games (August 13 to October 10, 2021)
    2 Second Ten Games (Nov 6 to December 28, 2021
    3 First Nine Games (Jan 1 to March 12, 2022)
    4 Second Nine Games (March 19 to May 22, 2022)

    The second competition will be the same as we run last season where you predict the results of 6 selected games each week – I will mix it up a bit more this season.

    Let me know your thoughts

  • Great ideas, GN5 ⚽ ⚽ ⚽

    Let’s see how many are up for it this time. 🐳 🐳

    We can do this competition just for the fun and honour or we can all pay an entry fee say of £15 and have a couple of prices at the end… What does everyone think?

  • Hi TA thought i would take a little break from hibernation. My Brighton loving friend reckons he can play, full back, centre back or even defensive midfield. Very sound bringing the ball out from defence.his only obvious flaw is he isn’t great in the air.. Oh Dear

  • I cannot take the credit, GN5, as my original proposal was pretty different from a(n alternative) prediction competition, however I’m all for fun and games, and by all means count me in,

    I further support TA’s idea on a symbolic entry fee and some funny prize / fan memorabilia, even though historic data shows that I shouldn’t expect to win some; I specialize my prediction skills exclusively for the Euro final. 🙂

  • Cheers Stuart, Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands sounds so poetic! It must be great to be a pastor of a large congregation and I hope you give them some footie lessons while you are at it. 🙂

    Glad to hear you can wear t-shirts all year long and C19 was kept at bay. Did your wife and son have a good time in ingerland?

  • Thanks PB, sounds like you are having a nice summer in Hungary.

    The lack of transperancy in figures and reporting is frustrating across Europe, but good to hear that apparently few are now dying of C19 in Hungary.

    Scotland is having great weather at the moment and we are enjoying. Have been wearing sandals and shorts for a week now.

    C19 is no longer under control in the UK. It’s rampant and no end in sight. The hope is that not many will die of it anymore, but we have already 1m long Covid-19 cases.

  • Cheers Madhu, we don’t know all the different ins and outs re our players and how Arteta is handling them. Do we really expect Arteta to transform the team without any fall out? Let’s see where we are at the end of the season re position in the league and player situations..

  • PB, I remember that your original idea was a different but this new competition is in fact just a variation of your idea.

  • Sounds like good news to me!
    He is a wild card, coming from a mid-level league, but played for a top team of strong traditions, where he earned the captaincy.
    According to his WhoScored profile the 21 has now significant weakness, but a master of passing, and strong in through balls, dribbling, long shots, interception and concentration. Looks like a quality signing to me; let’s hope he can hit the ground running in the Premier League.

    But before leaving poor Ben White behind, here is an interesting piece:
    https://www.football.london/arsenal-fc/transfer-news/ben-white-mikel-arteta-arsenal-20980317

  • …According to his WhoScored profile the 21-year-old Belgian youth international has no significant weakness, but is a master of passing…

  • Hey TA, I just re -read the post and want to mention… of course you know I think we need 2 more midfielders after Lokonga at least, especially if Xhaka leaves, so I am in agreement there.

    One thing you mentioned is that maybe we should be looking for a tall striker and on that, I totally disagree. It’s the last thing we should get. I don’t want anything that might encourage the mindless crossing of the ball we were overdoing. Other top clubs don’t rely on that at all. Smaller, midtable and below clubs do that… not because they have bad coaches, but because they can’t afford quality creative players, and often have to rely on big lumps up front.

    On a happy note, and related, is the Ben White acquisition. I think Arteta is asking for players that will bring the ball through the middle, so he can change those tactics, so I’m doubly pleased about the direction of the signings of White and Lokonga.

    Watching the videos, (I know its only highlights) you can get the sense of players qualities. The passing is top notch, also very well timed tackles are a strength. I am thinking he’s not quite as quick as I hoped, but not everyone can be a
    Koscielny. So I wouldn’t want him at RB as some suggest. I do think he could be very special as a dm. You will see my calling for it this season against the big attacking clubs. Either playing with 3 at the back, or White as dm would be a great tactic in the lineup.

    The only other thing is that we can’t let Xhaka go for an insulting amount. We need to take a page from Daniel Levys book. The player doesn’t get to choose the destination and a minimum is set in stone. He’s a very strong player and we can’t continue being low balled. Offer him around and try, and too bad if no one meets the price. If he wants to go, he can except a salary cut from his next team, to help them meet the fee.

  • Good stuff, J FROM NYC. A tall striker would give us a plan B in attack but of course they also need to be able to play footie.

    Yes Arteta is adding players with dribbling skills and good passing ability. So good stuff.

    Italians seldom pay good money and XhakA is indeed worth a decent transfer fee… Will go to the wire but I hope he stays.

  • J, I agree, but height and touch can marry. Giroud was the sort of ball playing centre forward we could do with. I would have kept him, tho’ he carried the ghost of Thierry on his shoulders and couldn’t please everyone. Who could? Tho, lacking in pace, he was brilliant in the air, had a wonderful touch and scored some truly fabulous goals. Remember his part in Jack’s wondergoal against Norwich? Big Niall Quin had a fine touch too, so (tho’ never a Gunner) did Crouchie.

    Total, yes, Sarah had a happy time in the UK. Somewhat tinged with melancholy as her Dad is in advanced stage dementia. I call him the “happy demented saint”, a title he is pleased with. He is blissfully oblivious to the stress those around him carry, always smiling and, is the most saintly man I have had the privilege of meeting.

    And, yes the work is a privilege. Last year a fellow walked into our venue wearing a Liverpool shirt. I explained to him our theology and pointed him in the direction of another church down the road, if he wasn’t prepared to wise up.

  • Stuart,
    Olivier was special in his team interplay but still too slow for a main man. It is interesting though, if you put together a reel of his wonder goals, it would match even the most prolific strikers. Only Thierry has one much better. But Girouds trophy 🏆 cabinet. Wow!

    It is proof of one thing, life isn’t fair. To be blessed with great looks, physique, hair, football talent, speak the most beautiful language (opinion) and then to have the good fortune to be on so many good teams. I do understand that those teams were usually successful because he is such a great team player,, selfless and hardworking. Funny how France, with a great all around Benzema, who is still playing at a high level, just didn’t seem so special without the handsome Hunk. I always mentioned how good it was to have him defending corners as well.

    I always thought Dzeko was a good talented big striker, but with Aguero, had to be content as a late game big man for crosses and change of pace.

  • I know a lot has been said already about the topic so, I’d just say I pray Ben White is the real deal and fulfils every expectation. Checked out the YouTube videos of him and though those are usually a compilation of the best parts of a player’s game, I did think he would do well as a DM or a B2B midfielder. A pity he doesn’t like like he is better in the air than what we have, presently.

    GN5, great idea and I am up for it, including the idea of a £15 entry fee. It will spice things up a notch. Let’s hope the rising wave of COVID-19 cases doesn’t spoil the start of the new season for fans.

  • Stuart, please tell me you are winding us up. Surely, there is room for even a Scouse loving convert, willing to give his life…….🤷🏽‍♂️

  • J, a couple of my mates think he is ‘andsome, too, even with that Gallic snoz of his. Personally I don’t think he’s a patch on Peter Beardsley…
    Eris, “One God, one girl, one football team” has always been my motto, but yes, the fellow in question has become a friend, team mate and now helps lead our kids ministry. What can I say? The grace of God knows no limits…

  • You have a wicked sense of humour, Stuart. Fancy someone walking into your congregation with a Pool shirt on!! 😁

    Lovely description of your father in law and the highest praise a man could receive.

  • So we have now four who would like to take part in GN5s competition and pay a modest one off entrance fee: PB, Eris, GN5 and I.

    Would be great if we can get to 10 in total. 👍🏿👍🏿🙂

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