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Ben White: Brighton journalist provides insight on the Arsenal target as transfer edges closer

Arsenal are said to be interested in signing Ben White. Today, The Athletic reports that 'there is confidence that a deal is closer to being struck' for the Brighton man.
As the deal edges closer, let's take a look at what Ben White can bring to Arsenal. Considering most of us would have watched Ben White a limited number of times, I decided to interview Brighton journalist and podcaster, Charlie Haffenden who provided some amazing insight. Let's get started.1. Ben White was voted Brighton’s player of the season. Do you think it was deserved? How would you sum up his season?
Charlie Haffenden: "When Ben received the award, I’ll be honest, I was a little surprised. This wasn’t because he wasn’t good enough to win it, but rather a couple of others were more deserving.
Yves Bissouma and Lewis Dunk both had exceptional seasons and I’d argue the former was one of the best midfielders in the league.
I also think his defensive counterpart Dunk had a better season, but that said, White played more minutes than any other Brighton player in 2020/21 and was absolutely outstanding – especially given it was his first campaign in the Premier League."2. The reported fee of the Ben White transfer is close to £50m - do you think Arsenal are overpaying or is it a deal that has the potential to be worth it in the end?
Charlie Haffenden: "There’s always a premium for England players and especially for those that play in defense. If Harry Maguire is worth £80m, Ben White at £50m is about right.
I’d argue White even has a higher ceiling than Maguire, as at 23 years of age he has a long time to improve. In his last four seasons, he has played in all four of England’s top divisions and has excelled wherever he’s been. If that doesn’t sum up Ben White for you, I don’t know what will."3. What are Ben White’s biggest strengths?
Charlie Haffenden:
"His main strengths are his ball-carrying, passing, awareness, and versatility. He can play as a right-center back in both a back-three or back-four, as a right-back, defensive midfielder, or even a right midfielder. You could put Ben White anywhere on the pitch and he’d excel.
It’s very rare that White gives the ball away, and often you’ll find him picking up the ball and taking it all the way into the offensive half on his own before playing a few short, quick passes. He’s terrific to have on that right-hand side and he gives wingers the freedom to run into the channels."
4. What are areas for Ben White to work on?
Charlie Haffenden: "Unfortunately, White is rather poor in the air. You might not expect this given he’s 6ft 2in, but he really isn’t your typical no-nonsense defender. Don’t get me wrong, he can obviously win a header and his height is useful, but I wouldn’t rely on him in the air.
I think if Arsenal put him alongside Gabriel, they’d be fine as the Brazilian has a real aerial presence himself – or he at least seems to from a Brighton perspective."Advert Inserted5. How is Ben White as a character? Is he controversial? Has he shown any leadership traits?
Charlie Haffenden: "He’s as professional as they come – always focused on the next game and on the team’s progress. He’ll never give up in games whether winning or losing, and I think he could certainly become a leader in a side once his confidence grows.He seems to be a little quiet at present, but he’s come on leaps and bounds since the start of last season, and the only way is up."6. How do you feel as a Brighton supporter losing Ben White? Do you think he can be replaced easily?
Charlie Haffenden:
"It’s a bit gutting to see White go, but I’ve been prepared for his departure for a long while. It’s inevitable now, and it always was. Last summer, Albion turned down two bids of over £25m from Leeds and I thought, ‘this is great, but he’s bound to leave next season.’
There were always doubts as to whether he’d make the step up to the Premier League, but as you now know, he played more minutes than any other Brighton player, and when that’s the case there’s always going to be interest. It seems I was right, because even if Arsenal don’t sign him, another big side will, and he’d be silly not to take a step up in his career."7.
Do you believe Ben White will be a success at Arsenal?
Charlie Haffenden: "Absolutely – he’ll be a huge success. Mikel Arteta clearly has in mind a possession-based system and Ben White will be perfect to develop it. As I mentioned before, he’s shown both for Leeds and Brighton his ability to adapt to different positions and his capability to maintain possession and build up attacks from the back.
He’s got the potential to be the ultimate ball-playing defender, and this is exactly what Arsenal need to challenge for the Champions League places once again."Thank you very much to Charlie Haffenden for sharing his thoughts - you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram - please make sure to check out his work here.
A few weeks back, a fellow writer for the site did an in-depth Ben White scouting report which you read
here if you are interested.
Let me know your thoughts on the potential Ben White signing in the comments below!