Arsenal have been told they blundered massively by spending £50m to sign Ben White after one pundit witnessed at first hand the way he was bullied on his Gunners debut at Brentford.
White cost Arsenal a club-record fee for a defender after they agreed to pay Brighton £50m. As a player comfortable with the ball at his feet, he’s not someone known for the dark arts of defending.
But, according to Martin Keown, that’s exactly the area in which Arsenal lack and why they needed a defender of that ilk.
Furthermore, speaking to Stadium Astro, he has named two no-nonsense types they could have bought instead.
“What Arsenal need is people who can defend,” Keown stated. “You look at it now and [Jannick] Vestergaard was available and he’s on his way to Leicester. He’s 6ft 4 or 6ft 5 and I’m pretty certain he’d be dealing with those balls coming into the box so recruitment is all important.
“There were other central defenders available. At £50m he could still probably prove to be a good signing but you’ve got the likes of [Joachim] Andersen signing for Palace.
“So, you take your chances. Of course the manager is part of that and you’re then hoping they are going to put the performances in and you need a central defender for all occasions and Friday showed a glaring weakness in Ben White’s game.
“But that can be worked on, you can improve that area, you can nudge the striker there’s all sorts of things you can do to improve that. But that needs to come from the manager the coaches to improve the players.”
Keown blasts wasted Arsenal millions
Since Arsene Wenger stepped down in 2018, the Gunners have spent close to £275m on new players.
However, the side finished in eighth last season, their worst position in over 20 years. And Keown believes Arsenal’s recruitment team have questions to answer.
He added: “Recruitment it’s glaring. When you look at [Nicolas] Pepe and the money they’ve spent and you’re looking for a performance. It’s not about marquee signing or making a statement with what you spend. It’s who you buy and then how they perform.
“I think [Thomas] Partey has been one of the best signings they’ve made. I like Gabriel as a central defender, but Partey can’t stay fit and he’s been a disappointment.
“When you look at the recruitment and who has been bought it’s not going well. But the team needs to regroup and respond in a calm way and come back fighting.
“But it’s going to be the young players that the club look to because they are the future of the club, [Bukayo] Saka and [Emile] Smith Rowe, but they need support. They need [Alexandre] Lacazette and [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang to be well and join the group very quickly.”