Bukayo Saka played pivotal role in Ben White’s £50 million ($69 million) Arsenal transfer by giving manager Mikel Arteta ‘overwhelmingly’ positive feedback on the defender Arsenal wonderkid Bukayo Saka proved pivotal in the club signing Brighton centre-back Ben White for £50 million ($69 million).
Prior to the transfer, plenty of background research was conducted before the Gunners secured the deal. Part of the analysis included Saka’s opinion on the defender and it appears it helped convince manager Mikel Arteta that White was his man.
Since the glory days of Martin Keown and Tony Adams, Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure, Arsenal has not had a brilliant centre-back pairing. Well with the arrival of English defender White from Brighton to compliment Gabriel, that could be about to change. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny weren’t too shabby either.
It is no secret that the Gunners have struggled mightily defensively and the heart of the defence is where most of the problems are. Often criticised for having a soft underbelly and being easily bullied off the ball, Arsenal’s defensive issues have been front and centre.
During the summer’s European Championship White and Saka spent time with each other after the ex-Brighton defender was called up to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold who suffered a thigh injury against Austria in a warm up game.
As Arsenal’s interest in White grew, Arteta contacted Saka and asked for his opinion on the 23-year-old. The response from the teenager was ‘overwhelmingly’ positive says The Athletic. Following the announcement, the England defender had just as much praise for the 19-year-old after his first interview with Arsenal.
“So, I had a bit with Bukayo over the summer,” White said. “I hadn’t seen much of him before then and he really surprised me how talented he is. I didn’t train against him a lot but some of the other boys did. He’s so sharp and I was really surprised how good he is.”
White made his debut when he was entered the fray after half-time in a 2-1 defeat by London rivals Chelsea in a pre-season friendly. He made an instant impact which appeased the supporters by making a goal-saving tackle on the Blues’ Hakim Ziyech.
Given Arsenal’s frailties at the back last season, which saw them suffer 13 losses in the Premier League last season, it is clear to see why they spent so much on White.
Arteta will know much needs to be done to rectify those problems but with his new £50m centre-back, the Gunners could produce a far better campaign as they look to compete for a Champions League spot this season.
Last season, Mikel Arteta went some ways to address that in signing 22-year-old Gabriel Magalhaes for £27 million ($37.5 million). The hulking defender hit the ground running in north London, winning Arsenal’s Player of the Month twice before the Premier League campaign hit halfway.
His tackling, distribution, and proactive approach made him arguably one of Arteta’s best players. As we often see with new players coming to a foreign league, Gabriel had his ups and downs while adjusting to life in England, however, it is clear to the entire Gunners fanbase that he is a certain starter every time he is fit.
Gabriel and Ben White can be Arsenal’s perfect defensive pairing after Mikel Arteta signs former Brighton defender on £50 million ($69 million) transfer
David Luiz and Rob Holding took turns partnering Gabriel (with Pablo Mari earning minutes too) and even for a period halfway through the season, were the preferred option for reasons we do not fully know. Every supporter saw that Gabriel and Luiz worked well as a combination, when the duo was fit.
With Luiz now out the door and many still unsure exactly how they feel about Holding, Gabriel is more than likely going to have his best partner since arriving at the Emirates. That is new signing Ben White.
The 23-year-old produced a fine season for Brighton last year, featuring in 36 Premier League games with his form warranting a selection in the England squad for Euro 2020. White has many great attributes that make him the ideal partner for Gabriel. For starters, and get this, White is right-footed and with Gabriel being left-footed! Arteta has his perfect combination.
More importantly, White has some serious pace for a central defender too. He often uses it to his advantage, meaning in transition, it gives Arsenal that extra comfort knowing they will not be caught on the break, allowing Arteta to adopt a higher line.
His positional awareness is second to none as last season, very much someone in the right place at the right time to pick off stray passes or break up play, helping his side regain possession. Unlike most central defenders, White is superb with his feet and was one of the most reliable ball-playing defenders in the division last year. His progressive qualities are clear.
- An Agencies report