Image via @Arsenal
Arsenal made Ben White their third signing of the summer in a deal worth £50m. It’s a monster transfer fee and a massive bet from Edu and Arteta. The player will pick up the #4, a legendary number at the club, and hope to take us back to past glories.
So what is all the fuss about with Ben?
Whether you like it or not, for an Arteta system to thrive, we need a ball playing centre back. It’s not a secondary consideration. David Luiz was the player that best reflected the profile of defender we need, the coaching staff believed him to be our best defender, and it’s hard to disagree when you look out how our attacking play was dented with him out of the team.
Remember the mission for the summer? Reduce errors in the system by half, become 20% more clinical down the other end of the pitch.
The gamble on Ben White is that he has the core skills David Luiz has. He’s supremely confident on the ball, so passing out of the back will be more comfortable. He also has the ability to drive passes through the lines, a part of our game that really struggles when Rob Holding steps in. His most impressive attribute is how he literally carries the ball up the pitch like a midfielder.
The biggest difference between him and David Luiz? About 11 years. Those 11 years are the difference between slow and fast which is reflected in red cards and sloppy penalties. If you want to reduce errors in the system, signing a ball playing centre back that can run is a good start. 11 years is also the difference between, ‘I’ve been there, done it and I can’t be arsed’… and ‘I have it all to prove, and I will go to war for this club.’ David Luiz was a bit above Arsenal. He’d won it all, played for the greatest managers, and just didn’t fancy it in certain games. Remember the West Ham game last season? He didn’t show up. Remember the City game when he was benched? Luiz is an immense person to have on your team in big games, but if things aren’t perfect for him, he can be a disaster. You always knew which player had showed up after 12 minutes. We deserve a player that will always show up.
Ben White needs to solve for the above.
I like the idea on paper. It’s a pricey one, but if you want Arsenal to get back to the top, these are the sort of deals you need to do. United signed Harry McGuire and everyone laughed at them, it’s not so funny now, is it? Big clubs invest in big positions. The major question is whether this guy can make the jump, but I like his character. Binned by Southampton, sent out on loan to Peterborough, Newport, then Leeds where he played nearly every game on their way to the title. Then a big season at Brighton where he landed a call-up. He’s starred for two highly technical managers with very different systems. That shows his intelligence and ability to adapt. It hasn’t been a straight shot to the top, nor has it been guaranteed… but for me, if you’ve slummed it, when something big comes along, you grab it.
Mike Arteta is very excited about the move.
“Ben was a top target for us and it’s great that we’ve completed his signing. Ben has been educated with two very good clubs, Brighton and Leeds, in recent seasons. He has benefitted well from two very good coaching set-ups and has shown with both Brighton and on loan with Leeds what a strong talent he is.
“Ben is an intelligent defender who is very comfortable with the ball at his feet and his style fits perfectly with us. And of course, he is still young, so his age and profile fits with what we are building here. We are all looking forward to Ben being central to our future long-term plans.
This transfer has to work for the manager. It’s a huge move and it makes the team he has now very much his own. Now it’s time to deliver. We need to see speed through the team, we want to see more variety in our play, and we want all that with the same level of defensive security we’ve had for the last 18 months.
There’s some other news doing the rounds regarding Xhaka. Amy Lawrence suggesting Roma are messing around and we’re going to offer him a new deal to protect value.
Protect the value of a player no one wants to buy for another 5 years? If he doesn’t leave, it’ll be a really dark moment in our summer. He’s a good player, but his limitations can’t continue to be propped up by special strategies. We need to move him on and bring in someone like Bruno Guimarães. I also struggle to see Xhaka wanting to stay, surely he’s done with Arsenal? Hopefully, this is just the standard negotiations tactic from Arsenal.
Finally, St. Louis is suing Stan K for £700m. Daniel Ek thinks that might result in Kroenke selling. I have my doubts.
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