Arsenal’s pursuit of Ben White caused confusion among some supporters. For the team with the third-best defensive record in the Premier League last season, wouldn’t £50 million be better spent elsewhere?
But for Mikel Arteta, like many coaches in modern games, the responsibility of a central defender is not just to block the ball out of his goal. It is as accurate and effective as possible to move it to the frontcourt, and thus become the starting point of the team’s offense.
Arteta believes that playing from the backcourt is a key principle of his philosophy, but during his tenure, passing the ball from one end of the field to the other has been an ongoing problem-especially when he does not have David Luiz. At the time, there was a gap in the defensive core of Arsenal.
Many supporters hope to see the return of William Saliba have a chance to fill this gap, but only the defender Marseille on loan for a season, But Arteta clearly prefers White, and the 23-year-old’s ability is undisputed.
He showed this in Brighton last season, under the leadership of Graham Porter, started all but two Premier League games, and left Marcelo Bielsa with the same positive a year ago. impression.
After the Leeds coach played him every minute of winning the promotion, he was eager to sign him permanently, but the club’s offer-worth up to 25 million pounds-was rejected. Since then, White’s value has doubled.
Porter, like Bielsa and Arteta, are committed to playing from the backcourt, and so is Gareth Southgate. He quickly brought White to the England team before the 2020 European Cup. It is said that he regards him as For the key figure of the future, the national side.
White’s rapidly rising reputation has a lot to do with his outstanding technical ability.
He is very good on the ball and has an excellent passing range. His composure and confidence in possession made Porter and Bielsa even use him in the midfield. He also has the ability to play right back or full back.
This versatility is another part of Arsenal’s appeal—just like Southgate, who cited his “flexibility” after summoning him—but it is his natural position as a three-back or The right center back of the four backs, he will be needed at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal had previously counted on David Luiz to launch an offense from that position, cross the opposing line of defense and pick out the offensive players in the danger zone. But now it’s up to White to take on this responsibility, and he is fully prepared for this task.
In fact, although he averaged fewer passes per game last season than his Arsenal opponents, White’s forward pass ratio was significantly higher. This reflects his willingness to let his team continue to attack, instead of simply reclaiming possession.
At Brighton in the first half of last season, his serve made Tariq Lampty shine at the right-wing defender. Then, after the young man was injured, White created a supply line for midfielders Pascal Gross and Yves Bisuma, and even Leandro Trossade in front of them.
But White provides more than just forward-looking distribution.
In fact, one of his most compelling qualities, which is almost unique among the Premier League central defenders, is his ability to dribble the ball on the defensive end.
Last season, White’s dribble success rate surpassed any other central defender in the division, and his dribble data (defined by Opta as a ball movement of 5 meters or more) is even more impressive.
In fact, according to Opta’s data, White ranks first in dribbling offenses, and his 18 offenses are almost twice that of any other central defender. By putting players on the court in his own half, he is able to destabilize opponents and create space for others.
White’s dribble benefited from his athletic ability and technique. The defender is strong in duels, with impressive speed and acceleration. Coupled with his tight control, these attributes help him slip past opponents.
They will also attract Arsenal defensively. Arteta likes the high line, just like his mentor Guardiola, but his current centre-back selection lacks rhythm, which makes Arsenal easy to fall behind. White’s rate of recovery may change this.
The same is true of his ability to read the game. White was relatively inexperienced at the age of 23, but he was always alert to danger-he averaged more interceptions per 90 minutes last season than any Arsenal central defender-and always knew what was happening around him thing.
Another important difference with Louis, who will take over at Arsenal, is that he rarely makes mistakes.
In fact, according to Opta, in the past two seasons, in 82 league appearances between Brighton and Leeds, White has not made a mistake that caused an opponent to shoot. In contrast, Louis made 4 of 53 appearances in the same time period.
White is an obviously modern central defender, but he is also very strong-“He has that athletic ability, he can play, play, and play,” Porter said last season-and he makes no compromises when it comes to tackles.
His lease spell helped him develop these physical qualities. Before Leeds, White spent some time in Peterborough in the first league and Newport County in the second league. He climbed the football pyramid all the way, experienced different game styles and methods, and cooperated with him. Everyone was impressed.
Of course, for former coaches and teammates, they always think that the rise of players is an afterthought, which is not uncommon.
However, Newport coach Michael Flynn supported White as the future England international just a few weeks after Rodney Parad on loan in 2017.
“I don’t like putting pressure on people, but if he doesn’t get the full international cap, I would be surprised,” he said at the time. Flynn later described White as the best loan signing in club history. “I wish I could clone him,” he joked.
White’s loan period prepared him for future challenges, and when he finally returned to the club of his childhood at the beginning of last season, he was ready to make an impact.
Brighton is ranked 16th in the Premier League, but defensively they are one of the best teams in the division, maintaining 12 zero goals conceded-the same number as Liverpool and Arsenal-and losing 46 balls-only two more than Manchester United, who ranked second. White has more playing time than any other chess player.
From Arsenal’s point of view, there are of course risk factors in this deal. The cost of £50 million is a huge expense for someone with only one season of top-level league experience.
But White, who is only 23 years old, looks close to the full version. Arteta hopes that he will continue his exciting development along the same trajectory at the Emirates Stadium.
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