David Ornstein showered FIRE on the internet when he announced that we’d be targeting Ben White this summer in a £40-50m move.
Let’s start with the player. My uncle is a huge Leeds fan and said the guy is absolute class and he was gutted they couldn’t nab him to stay in the league. That’s all that is needed here, my uncle has the last say.
Outside that, what do we have? A capped England player. Not only a ballplayer, but someone that can dribble like a midfielder. He is fast. He’s 6ft 1, which isn’t the tallest, but next to Gabriel or Mari, you’re in good shape. The most important thing he has? He’s Premier League proven and he’s had a league winning run in the Championship. He’s physical enough to land in a Bielsa team, he’s solid enough to have landed promotion in team that leaves centre backs wide open on the counter. He’s been coached in a positional play system under Potter.
You simply cannot knock the profile of the player and to be honest, I am absolutely shocked the comp merchants propping lesser players are complaining about this sort of move. 23 years old, keeping Brighton in the league, landing England call-ups over other players in the Brighton backline that are English.
Part of the anger is people think this means the end of Saliba. I’m not sure why, because Saliba does the same things as White, except he hasn’t played a single minute in any English competition. If you think Mikel Arteta is going to roll career dice on a player that’s had half a season at Nice, you are totally nuts. That would be a move crazier than dropping ESR as a false 9 in an away leg of the Europa League. You don’t make the 3rd best defence in the league better with Saliba. You can’t complain that Arteta makes too many rookie mistakes, then encourage him to put a 20-year-old centre-back in the starting 11 from the start of the season, despite ZERO top clubs doing that. Also, don’t give me Fofana, Leicester finished 5 points ahead of us and conceded 50 goals last season. Saliba deserves to fight for his place, but he doesn’t deserve to start because Don Raul massively overpaid for him like he did with Pepe.
What you have is someone more proven in White as a tried and true starter, then you have someone coming up behind him with a massively high ceiling. That’s an exciting grouping of centre-backs.
People are also spitting feathers about priorities like transfers are only viable if they are done in order of importance.
Don’t be so fucking ridiculous.
If Arsenal have the funds for a £40m center-back, that gives credence to the story I had about KSE putting up funds this summer. This ‘might’ be the big one we’ve been begging for.
I also wouldn’t write off player exchanges being part of that deal. Brighton might have an interest in a few of our players, I’m thinking about Reiss Nelson, Eddie, and AMN. We could lower the fee by sending young English players who might fancy the top class coaching of Graham Potter.
The story, even if it’s untrue, also gives us power in the market, because it shows we’re not desperate for cash to move on our own ambitions forward. Part of Liverpool and Chelsea’s strength when selling is that they don’t need to sell. Last summer, we needed cash, so clubs lowballed us.
I also think people are extremely scarred by transfer windows of yesteryear. Signing a center-back doesn’t mean we won’t sell any. Arteta has said about 50 times we had too many players in that role. If anything, Ben White is a ruthless indictment on the players we currently have at the club. 3rd best defence in the league but no standout centre-backs? Someone is going to pay the price for that and I wouldn’t really be fussed who it was.
Also note this… signing a new deal isn’t always a celebration of faith. It can be about protecting an asset so we can sell it at some point. A lot of the players, since Huss Fahmy, have optional years Arsenal can add so we can land fees. If Arteta managed anything last season, it was making a lot of our players more appealing than they were before. The fact Xhaka is moving at basically 29 to a fairly big Italian club shows that there’s a market for our talent this summer.
If Arsenal can raise £100m, which we’re almost 30% of the way there now, then there’s a chance our summer could be a £200m one. Arsenal paid back the Government loan and took out another £120m via Barclays. In a world of cheap capital, why not invest in the dip?
Joe Willock – £20m
Hector – £30m
Reiss – £10m
Leno – £25m
Xhaka – £18m
Matteo – £8m
AMN – £20m
Mavropanos – £15m
Cal Chambers – £20m
There are deals to be made this summer and clubs are going to deal with us.
So in short, don’t shit your pants that we’re adding quality to our defence that we need. Our system doesn’t work without a ballplayer center-back and Saliba would be a huge risk to start there. What happened to Liverpool when they lost quality in defence? They dropped 30 points. What happened to City when they added Reuben Dias? He was one of their best players and they smashed the league. Uncomfortable defenders blow our system. A centre-back and right back that can invert move our attack forward.
There will be new midfielders, no doubt. Xhaka needs replacing. Ceballos needs replacing.
Don’t fret about the summer because the order makes no sense. Don’t fret about fees because there’s a complete plan about all the positions. Just worry about quality.
Right, on that note, I’ll see you in the comments. x