Released at 16 to becoming a £50 million signing: Who is Ben White?
By Max Mishcon
Arsenal’s transfer business can raise eyebrows at the very best of times. From £40,000,001 bids, to signing players with broken backs to Aaron fucking Ramsdale, the Gunners appear to enjoy playing the role of the clown in the circus that is the Premier League. Initial links to Ben White also raised eyebrows, but in a very different way. This is a signing that is forward thinking, a player that ticks all the boxes and appears surprisingly great business from Edu and Mikel Arteta. Let this piece be a get-to-know of Ben White in anticipation of his imminent announcement! Born in the small town of Poole on the south coast in October 1997, Benjamin William White grew up taking antibiotics for 7 years due to his appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix) and was immunocompromised (the state of having a very weak or non-existent immune system). The 23 year old made his trade at Southampton from a very young age before being released at 16. He was later snapped up by Brighton and after appearing for the academy, and he made his professional debut on the 9th of August 2016 in a 4-0 EFL cup win against Colchester. After making several first team cameos, White went out on the first of 3 loans to Newport County. Highlights included a win against his parents club in the FA Cup, a strong performance against Harry Kane in the same competition. Newport manager Michael Flynn describing White as "the best loan signing the club has ever made." A less eventful six-month loan to Peterborough saw the Englishman rack up 16 appearances and one goal after the Posh narrowly missed out on the League One Playoffs. White really made his mark during his time with Bielsa’s Leeds as they won the Championship in 2019/20. As well as some stellar performances, White won a Championship Player of the Month Award, Leeds’ Young Player of the Season Award and was named in the division's Team of the Year. The centre-back was essential to Leeds’ aggressive, high-octane style and his ability to play in a high line, tough tackling and dynamism made him a fan favourite at Elland Road. The former Brighton man made 36 appearances last season and caught the attention of Gareth Southgate and Arteta, who both wanted White in their squads. To the surprise of many, White replaced the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold in England’s Euro 2020 squad and although he was unused in the tournament, he made appearances against Austria and Romania in pre-tournament friendlies, impressing in both. Standing at 6 feet, what White may appear to lack in physicality, he makes up for in tactical flexibility and a true footballing brain. Able to play on the right side of a back three or two as well as right back or even a 6 or 8, White offers so much on and off the ball. Known for progressing the ball by either carries or passes, White is able to play under pressure through an education of Bielsa and Potter. Whilst he may not be the biggest, he knows how to use the frame he has, with the timing of his duels being especially consistent. He possesses good speed and athleticism too, meaning he can play in a high line. For around £50 million, White’s price tag can only be considered after a few years, but a young, homegrown, modern, right-sided centre-back is exactly who we should be targeting. Welcome to the Arsenal, Ben White!