Signing Ben White from Brighton makes sense
After The Athletic reported that Arsenal were preparing a “concrete offer” for Brighton and Hove Albion star Ben White on Sunday evening, the news was clearly not welcomed by some section of the fanbase.
To construct one solid question out of their worries was, “What will happen to William Saliba?” Although that concern is natural, the fuss about the Frenchman should be limited to a degree.
Saliba is fantastic at left centre back too – in my opinion he’s the biggest central defender talent at the club. Keep him! If we sign Ben White, they can make a nice pairing. Wouldn’t want to leave Gabriel out, but it’s good competition for places. We need that now in midfield.
— LTArsenal™ (@ltarsenal) June 12, 2021
Laying a good groundwork by signing good centerbacks go a long way in a team performing well during the campaign. Take Liverpool for example. The Merseyside club headed to the 2020/21 season somewhat short of experienced center halves.
After Virgil Van Dijk suffered an injury against Everton in October, Jurgen Klopp’s men lost their way in the league campaign. They made two panic buys in Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak to fill the numbers.
However, that was not enough, as the team failed miserably in their bid for a title defense.
If you look at the center back options at other top Premier League clubs, you will get more idea as to why a good team should head into the season with at least three sound centerbacks. Manchester City have four CBs in Aymeric Laporte, Nathan Ake, Ruben Dias and John Stones.
While their Manchester rivals boast Harry Maguire, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe. Despite owning a decent bunch of defenders, the Red Devils are keen to add one more body with highly coveted Sevilla defender Jules Kounde consistently being linked.
Chelsea also have a strong centerback squad. Kurt Zouma, Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva and Andreas Christensen are all vastly experienced defenders of international pedigree.
On the other hand, Arsenal had David Luiz (who was 34), Gabriel (who had a debut campaign last season), Pablo Mari (who was decent at most) and Rob Holding (who is no better than a squad player).
Calum Chambers can also be added to the list, but he cannot be expected to play week in and week out at centerhalf next season.
With the addition of Ben White, Arsenal can boast three solid centerbacks in Gabriel, William Saliba and White, who can have the potential to be one of the best in the league in a few years’ time.
Considering the fact that William Saliba has played majority of matches as a left centerback for Nice as well as former club St. Etienne, the deal for White looks even more rational.
📊 Ben White had the most tackles & interceptions per 90 in the Premier League last season among his England teammates pic.twitter.com/bm41qkLaYY
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) June 7, 2021
Mikel Arteta can also switch to a 3-4-3 formation, which could eventually bring out the best of the current crop. Gabriel can play on the left of the back three. Saliba can start from the middle and get more protection with White and Gabriel being on his either side, while Thomas Partey just in front of him.
Partey himself can benefit from a midfield pivot, while Bukayo Saka can be deployed as a left-wing back. To cut a long story short, Arteta can try several formations, not just from game to game but in between matches too.
The Spaniard’s in-game management has been thrown under the bus several times. However, that might change if he has better players at his disposal.
Drawing up conclusions on White is short-sighted from the Arsenal fans because boasting three solid options at centerback will only help the Red and White in getting back to where they belong.