Premier League • England

Arsenal nearing agreement with £50m star who’ll give Arteta almighty selection headache

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Arsenal are closing in on securing an agreement with a £50m defender who’ll form one part of a ruthless three-way scrap for two starting spots next season, according to a report.

The Gunners thrust themselves firmly back into the title race when dominating Liverpool at the Emirates last weekend.

Arsenal were superior in all departments of the pitch. The backline of Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel and Oleksandr Zinchenko (Jakub Kiwior after half time) limited Liverpool to just a single shot on target.

Furthermore, but for a defensive mix-up, the free-scoring Reds would have left north London without a goal to show for their efforts.

Now, according to HITC, one of those aforementioned defenders is primed to sign a new contract with the club.

The outlet state talks between Arsenal and Ben White began earlier this season and with progress now made, ‘confidence is high that he will soon put pen to paper on a fresh deal.’

White is not out of contract until 2026, though remains on the original deal signed when arriving from Brighton in 2021.

To better reflect his importance to the Gunners, Arsenal believe the time is now to reward their versatile defender.

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Three into two won’t go for Arteta

White – who cost £50m to sign – played the bulk of his career prior to joining Arsenal at centre-half. However, with Gabriel and Saliba forming arguably the league’s finest centre-back pairing, White has shifted over to right-back.

The Gunners strengthened in the full-back position last summer when landing Jurrien Timber from Ajax. The Dutch international unfortunately suffered an ACL injury on his Premier League debut, though there are signs he’s nearing a return.

Arsenal included Timber in their squad for the knockout stages of the Champions League. Nonetheless, it’s next season where Timber is likely to truly make his mark once fully recovered.

At that stage, and with White expected to be tied down for the long haul, an almighty scrap for starts in the full-back positions will begin.

Despite being right-footed, Timber is equally adept at operating on the left side. Indeed, his only two appearances for the Gunners thus far (Community Shield included), both came at left-back.

But few would expect Zinchenko to readily accept a bench role. As such, it’ll be a case of three into two between White, Zinchenko and Timber for the full-back berths.

Takehiro Tomiyasu will also have a say in the matter and is expected to finalise a new contract with Arsenal before White does.

However, the Japan international is widely viewed as more of a squad player and it’ll be between White and Timber at right-back and Zinchenko and Timber at left-back where the real selection battles will be waged.

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