Arsenal show transfer ambition as Mikel Arteta leads big-money Ben White pursuit


Arsenal fans should know by now not to get too excited by their club’s transfer activity, but just nine days into this summer’s window there are signs of cautious optimism. Supporters have previously despaired during the off-season as their club’s hierarchy dillied, dallied, ummed and ahhed before failing to land high-profile targets. It’s still early days, yet it appears things could be different this time.

Admittedly, things did not get off to a particularly auspicious start when Arsenal missed out on Emi Buendia, as Aston Villa agreed to sign the Norwich playmaker for £33million.

That was a blow: Arsenal had shown concrete interest in the Argentine, but it quickly became clear Villa were much more keen.

After the end of a disappointing season, Mikel Arteta regularly spoke of the need to strengthen in the transfer market. Managers always want transfers. Often it can prove to be hot air, with the owners reluctant to loosen the purse strings.

It seems that on this occasion – and despite the impacts of the pandemic – Arsenal mean business. How else can you interpret a £40m bid for a 23-year-old with one season of Premier League football under his belt just days after the window opened?

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Ben White is clearly a hugely talented and versatile player. He was brilliant on loan at Leeds and solid last season for Brighton, playing in central defence, holding midfield and right-back.

His call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad was a deserved recognition of his performances and confirmation of his character.

The fact he signed a new four-year contract with Brighton last summer means the Seagulls can play hard ball with Arsenal. He is not guaranteed to move – and the Gunners are arguably in greater need in other positions – but the fact the club have moved early and decisively bodes well for the coming weeks. Arteta is reportedly confident of getting his man.

Arsenal are undertaking a complete revamp of their squad before the start of the 2021/22 campaign. Reports have suggested Arteta wants as many as five new players and plenty more could head in the other direction.

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Granit Xhaka is expected to join Roma, Marseille want Matteo Guendouzi, Hector Bellerin is coveted by several Spanish sides and there are domestic suitors for Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, should the club want to sell.

The fact Arsenal are able to offer £40m for White suggests transfer funds will be made available to Arteta and technical director Edu. If they can also shift some fringe players and refresh a bloated squad, then an improvement on eighth place and a Europa League semi-final should be a bare minimum.

The news that Real Madrid do not want to part with Martin Odegaard is undoubtedly a blow; a creative No 10 is a priority for Arsenal, but they must move on quickly and decisively.

Time is of the essence, especially when your pulling power has been diminished.

The lack of European football could well count against them when incentivising transfer targets – a factor which makes the ability to pay significant transfer fees all the more important.

Arsenal need a left-back to compete with the injury-prone Kieran Tierney, a right-back to replace Bellerin and a creative midfielder.

Gunners fans might not have heard the name Albert Sambi Lokonga until recently, but the fact the club are pursuing him so early and aggressively suggests they are convinced of the Anderlecht midfielder’s talents.

Plenty of other players have been mentioned in dispatches, some more exciting than others. Regardless who they go for, Arsenal should continue to act with the same purpose as they are showing with their White pursuit.



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