I mean, every single time I complain about slow biz, Arsenal deal that day. No sooner had I let rip that our summer was going down the pan because Captain Edu was busy sailing on the Don Shouldwebedoingthis… we signed a player. Well, kind of.
David Ornstein revealed that the Ben White deal has clocked in at £50m, making the right-sided centre back our 3rd most expensive signing in history. For a club that took made players bring packed lunches last season to save money, this is quite the statement.
As fans, we’re in ‘if Edu is involved, there’s no doubt it’s bad’ mode at the moment… but no doubt if Liverpool or Chelsea did this we’d be praising their shrewd scouting. A bit like Ryan Bertrand causing an #ArtetaOut trending topic, until Leicester went there, and it was fine.
Whatever you think about the deal, this much is true.
He’s a truly unique talent in the way that he plays. He’s been coached by Bielsa, who plays murderball at training, he’s been developed further by the excellent Graham Potter at Brighton. He carries the ball like a midfielder, he can confidently move passes between the lines like David Luiz, and he’s now capped.
Then factor in the next most important thing: he’s robust. He dropped 46 appearances at Leeds during his single season there. He played 36 of Brighton’s 38 games last season. The guy has a body that is ready for the challenge. So, so important for Arsenal this season after watching what Thomas Partey’s unusual run last season did to our campaign. Derisk is my fave new term… and this signing has it all in my opinion.
The big question marks are the same for any young centre back with a newly minted profile: Can they do it at a big club?
Harry McG was mercilessly mocked when he went to United, he’s just made the finals of the Euros conceding two goals. Same for John Stones over at Manchester City. Whenever there is a young British centre back that lands a big move, everyone doubts them, it is absolutely standard. I can even remember West Ham fans telling me Rio was great but would struggle at a big club. I think most of that comes down to branding… when you have a boring name and you look like an 18-30s Ibiza club rep, people doubt your talent.
Changing that view is down to the player. Most Arsenal fans don’t know what to make of it, so let’s hope the plan in place is one that is sharp, because boy do we need him to level us up next season. Still, at 23, if he can do it, it’ll look a bargain in a few years time.
For me, this is a massive piece of the Arteta jigsaw. There can’t be reasons this season as to why the system didn’t work. There can’t be rogue ‘but that player wasn’t quite right’ this season. We need to see the finished product. That finished product needs ball playing centrebacks. Fullbacks that can move and deliver final balls. Creative players that can move the ball at speed and be decisive. Strikers that are finishing their chances.
Even if you don’t understand Ben White, know that he’s important, otherwise they’d have put that money elsewhere. Also, Sky reporting that medical is set for when he’s back from holiday is like, exactly what Le-Grove told you.
Apparently, the club wants to reveal the Kido Hart deal as well as the Sambi Lokonga signing. Honestly, I am really quite thrilled about Lokonga. Even if it doesn’t quite work out, the idea is right. It shows that we’re leaning into the analysts behind the scenes, it shows that we have the smarts at Arsenal to fish out value, and it once again reinforces that the powers that be took note of what old players bring to the dressing room.
The Kido Hart deal is also a superb piece of news. You can keep reading all these weirdos saying the club is crashing and Emery was a better idea than Arteta… but the kids who used to leave under Wenger are now signing deals. You do not entrust your future to a coach you don’t believe in. Kido Hart could have his pick of clubs on the continent, he chose to stay at Arsenal because he sees a future here. I think that’s fucking great news.
I still think the biggest worry for Arsenal fans is where we’re putting the money for the Xhaka replacement and who we’re going to bring in to cover for the loss of Martin Odegaard. We’re not moving things forward without those two positions being filled. Our midfield is not going to be a 21 year old in his first Premier League year.
The big rumblings are that Locatelli is the player they want. Again, he’s a bit slow, but he has so much power and craft to his game. The goss from Italy appears to be that Juventus tapping Sassuolo for a 2-year loan deal with an obligation to buy. Arsenal are sitting outside the office with two suitcases full of cash worth £40m. If you run Sassuolo, who are probably bleeding hard at the moment, are you really going to let Juve pull your pants down like that? Cash is king, particularly this season. You cannot be doing mega clubs favours like that. The club might not survive. It always feels like a longshot move… but if Juve don’t have money, that is a very difficult obstacle to manoeuvre. Can you imagine the fireworks if we managed to pull that deal off?
This is another red flag issue… if you wait 4 weeks and Juve miraculously find the cash, you are fucked, because no one else will deal.
How long do you wait for your primary targets?
What does it cost you?
Can you afford to go into a season with either of those two positions vacant?
Transfer windows for clubs like Arsenal are a moving target. There are so many variables. The job of Edu is to manage them to perfection. So far, he hasn’t always delivered, so this summer is huge.
… one thing we can say about Edu though, he doesn’t sit on money, and he will find players. Not always the players you want, but he finds them.
Arsenal play Rangers today. I’m expecting a sexier performance than the one we saw in the week, but again, calm down, it’s just a friendly.
Before I go… no one told me the new home kit had hooped socks. I am absolutely going full kit on this. Imagine me rolling to a meeting near you soon, wearing these like Payne-Stewart-plus-fours.
OI OI, listen to the podcast.