Ben White is very likely to be the first signing of the summer.
According to many media outlets, the English defender will join from Brighton for a fee between £ 45m and £ 50m, quite an investment.
There are too many reports, almost identical, coming out these days not to take this piece of news as legit, so it really seems that the Arsenal are about to “splash the cash” on the former Leeds man.
Why are we investing so much for a centre-back when we have an entire midfield unit to rebuild and a real need for creativity in the final third? I could find three potential answers to this question:
The Club has much more money than we are made to think
The Club has finalized players sales to fund this investment
The Club is acting dumb
Although we cannot entirely exclude the possibility that the Club is simply acting dumb, because we acted dumb in the recent years, let’s start with a positive angle and let’s assume that the hierarchy has a plan in place, and directors Edu and Mikel Arteta are keeping their cards close to their vests and aim to spring a few surprises this summer.
After all, we weren’t meant to sign Nicolas Pépé two seasons ago as we supposedly didn’t have the money, yet here he is; we weren’t expected to lure Thomas Partey away from Atlético Madrid last summer, yet we did. The Arsenal managed to close deals that external observers and self-named ITKs thought they would never close, so we cannot exclude a few more surprises this summer.
Despite the decline on the pitch, the Arsenal still is a very desirable destination for any footballer because of its tradition, its fanbase, its location, its state-of-the-art facilities, the Emirates Stadium and the reputation that Mikel Arteta seems to have among his peers, as one of the most talented coaches in football. As a player, you have a lot of reasons to sign for the Arsenal even if you don’t play in the Champions League or you don’t challenge for the Premier League, given that you’re sold a project that would get you there, eventually.
Perhaps there is a strategy and the Club is moving in a very clear direction, showing real ambition and investing heavily to support the manager and his vision.
Perhaps we are finally starting to build our squad in line with the demands of the manager and go after the players based on their profile, not their agent.
It’s quite natural to think of Ben White’s arrival as the end of William Saliba’s career at the Arsenal but what if the Club wants them to be battling for a starting place in our defensive line?
If we set the money aside for a second, in Ben White we are getting a very good, young and home-grown centre-back who would be ready to be a regular starter and possesses a very high-ceiling: such operation should be lauded as a true coup, especially given the current struggles on the pitch.
As soon as we throw the £ 50m in the mix, this deal looks like an unnecessary luxury, the final nail on William Saliba’s confidence and a waste of resources that should be invested elsewhere.
Maybe the correct answer to the initial question is a blend of options 1) and 2) and that our off-season is about to take off: we’ve seen some movement at youth level, we’ve seen Dinos Mavropanos loaned back to Stuttgart with any option/obligation to buy and the arrival of Ben White will only be the start of a busy summer, instead of its pinnacle.
Perhaps the Club doesn’t have the money *yet* but is much closer to selling a handful of players that we know, hence the heavy investment on Ben White and the big names we are being associated with.
Perhaps the links to James Maddison are true; maybe we’re stalling with our midfield rebuild because we’re confident of getting Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes; maybe André Onana is already an Arsenal player.
…or we will get Ben White from Brighton, sell William Saliba for a fraction of the money we paid to get him from Saint-Étienne, loan those players that no Club seem to be ready to spend for (Lucas Torreira, Mattéo Guendouzi, Eddie Nketiah) only to lose them for free next summer, renew both Mohamed Elneny and Alexandre Lacazette, sign Albert Lokonga from Anderlecht to provide cover and leave it very, very late to get the attacking midfielder we desperately need to sign, hoping for a last-minute bargain or another loan for Martin Ødegaard.
We are the Arsenal, after all, so we cannot really exclude answer 3) from the options available.
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.