Recruited by Arsenal for just under €60m last summer while playing at Brighton, Ben White quickly convinced everyone in England, establishing himself as one of the key men for Mikel Arteta’s Gunners .
“I think what he’s done, adapting so quickly, dealing with the pressure of the price he was bought at and everything that he’s been asked to do at his age is very impressive. » This Friday, at a press conference before Arsenal’s trip to Watford (Sunday, 3 p.m.), Mikel Arteta could hardly better summarize the situation of Benjamin White (24). It is clear that the 24-year-old central defender has established himself as one of the leaders of the Gunners, yet strongly criticized for the amount paid to Brighton (58.5 M €) last summer to secure the services from English.
“You must explain to me how it is possible. Maybe it’s partly because Ben White is English. Varane (recruited €40m by Manchester United from Real Madrid during the last summer transfer window, editor’s note) is a player of a different class from that of Ben White. Ben White is still young. How can you put such a price on it? I do not know him. I respect him and I hope he will be a great player, but he hasn’t proven anything yet. You can’t compare Ben White and Varane, I’m sorry. It is not possible. It is not because he is a compatriot that I speak like that. He comes from Real Madrid. He’s not from Brighton, with all due respect to them.”dropped for example a certain William Gallas, former captain of the North London club.
A real plus ball at the foot
It is true that apart from the regular followers of the English championship, few people knew Ben White, who had only one Premier League season in his legs when he became the second most expensive defender in history. Unlike Mikel Arteta and Edu, the technical director, who were not mistaken, and who had the compass in their eye. In the game of comparison, almost eight months later, the English international (2 caps) has little to envy to the French world champion of the Red Devils.
“He has improved a lot in a lot of things. I tell you, if you watched him every day in training, you would be amazed. I feel like he plays a final every day in training sessions”, confided for example the Spanish coach of the Gunners a few weeks ago. His state of mind is not the only striking thing about him. White, who remains the player most used by Arteta (27 appearances in all competitions), impresses both with his ease with the ball (52 passes on average per game, 84.2% successful), his ability to move up the field to break the lines and bring the surplus, only by its commitment in the duels, aerial as on the ground.
The solid White turned off the skeptics
One thing is certain: the native of Poole, a port city in the south of England, is certainly one of the explanations for the solidification of the often porous defense of Arsenal (5th most solid in the Kingdom with 27 goals conceded in 24 games play). While the presence of Aaron Ramsdale in goal obviously plays its part, his repeated association with Gabriel (the first of which took place against Norwich on September 11) has brought stability and assurance to this London formation which missed so much for years. It is not the 11 clean sheets made this season (only Manchester City and Liverpool do better) that will say the opposite.
“Ben has a great personality. And he has courage: playing, making decisions, taking the lead… Ben is where he is today thanks to everything he has done over the past few months. Achieving this is no coincidence. This is the work he does every day. We bought Ben because we think he can be amazing. He has that ability to break lines and move the ball the way we want. But, above all, he has to defend and I think he does that really, really well.”, explains Mikel Arteta. Ben White can certainly still progress, but for his first year with a big English club, he is fearless and carries the weight of his transfer on his shoulders without difficulty. In any case, the skeptics have completely disappeared from the radar…