Brighton & Hove Albion have rejected Arsenal’s initial £40M bid for Ben White, per Sky Sports. The Seagulls are said to want at least £50M for the 23-year old England centerback, and the Gunners are expected to come back with an improved bid.
I’ve already shared my thoughts on the move, but I’ll shorthand them: I don’t like it.
Arsenal spent nearly £30M on a right centerback two summers ago in William Saliba, and by most accounts he’s got more than enough quality to play in the Premier League. Ben White is a good player, but Arsenal will have to pay the English tax to acquire him, and for me £40M was already pushing it.
Buying White would be another point in the worrying trend of Arsenal spending 10’s of millions on players in the same position in short order. It didn’t really work out well with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and it won’t work out in this case either.
It shouldn’t matter that Mikel Arteta doesn’t have exactly the player he wants at any particular position so long as he has a capable one. Needing to rebuild the roster does not equate to replacing everybody, especially young talent. Arsenal have a number of needs and supposedly a limited budget with which to fill them.
Clearly, there is a disconnect between how most of the football world rates Saliba and how Arteta rates him. I think Saliba is good enough to play for Arsenal, and at the very least, the club should find out whether he is by giving him a shot rather than moving on from him before he’s played a competitive match.
But my thoughts don’t really matter, because it’s Mikel Arteta, Edu, and Arsenal conducting the business. It feels increasingly likely that Ben White will be wearing an Arsenal shirt next season.