Ben White faces an uncertain future at Arsenal with two summer arrivals likely to see him pushed down the Gunners pecking order, according to one observer.
The Gunners secured the signing of White last summer, paying Brighton £50m for his services. He settled in quickly, forming a solid partnership with Gabriel Magalhaes as the Gunners pushed for a top-four finish. Ultimately, their Champions League push stalled with some crucial defeats during the run-in allowing Tottenham to usurp them.
White made a total of 37 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal. And he also earned England acclaim too, earning four caps in total for the Three Lions.
However, his future in the Arsenal side is now coming into question.
Mikel Arteta is welcoming William Saliba back into his ranks, and – as we exclusively revealed – he will play a big part in 2022/23.
The 21-year-old signed for the Gunners back in 2019, Arsenal paying St Etienne £27m for his services. However, he is yet to kick a ball for the Gunners, being sent on a variety of loans back to France.
It was in the most recent of these, with Marseille, that Saliba truly served notice of his talents. That form earned him a call-up to the France national squad, a place in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year and the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year.
Due back at Arsenal next week for pre-season training, Fabrizio Romano insists he will play a leading role under Arteta next season.
Arsenal are also pushing hard to sign Lisandro Martinez. The Ajax defender is the subject of intense interest from both the Gunners and Manchester United.
However, it is Arsenal who are pushing the stronger, having reportedly made a third offer for his services.
Ben White may drop to fourth choice defender
The Argentina international can provide cover at left-back – but has made his name operating as a centre-half.
As such, White may find himself dropping down the pecking order. And pundit Gabriel Agbonlahor reckons the defender is facing the axe next season under Arteta.
“I’ve watched Saliba a few times and he’s got that speed that you like to see in a centre-half. He’s very good at making the right decision at the right time,” Agbonlahor told Football Insider.
“Arsenal’s defence is nowhere near good enough to get top-four. For me, Ben White is very overrated, I watched him against Newcastle towards the end of the season and he was absolutely dreadful.
“He lacks pace, he lacks aggression. Yes, he’s good on the ball but he’s not a defensive midfielder, he’s a centre-half.
William Saliba wants to fight for his place at Arsenal
William Saliba wants his Arsenal return and is ready to fight for his place in the Arsenal back four
“Arsenal need two centre-halves who are no nonsense and have both got speed. For me, Gabriel and Saliba would be my starters next season.”
Continuing his crusade against White, Agbonlahor continued: “With Ben White, I think Brighton are laughing at getting the fee they got for him because he’s not good enough.
“It’s a shame that Arsenal have wasted a lot of money again. It was the same with Pepe. Ben White was not needed and Saliba should start ahead of him.”