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Arsenal owe a huge debt to the EFL for the rise of new £50m star Ben White

Ben White is on the cusp of a monster £50million transfer to Arsenal.

The Gunners have agreed the fee with their Premier League rivals Brighton for the classy centre-half.

Once it goes through it will make the 23-year-old one of the most expensive Englishmen of all time, alongside the likes of John Stones and Raheem Sterling.

It will also complete a meteoric rise for a player who was released by Southampton as a teenager. His story has been one of gradual rise, year-on-year, and this summer even saw him head to the Euros with England.

Here, Mirror Sport looks at White’s career so far.

Ben White has worked his way up from League Two loanee to an England international

Being released at 16

White started his youth career at Southampton but was let go at the age of 16.

Speaking about his experience with the Saints, he spoke in depth recently to talkSPORT .

White said: “When I was at Southampton I didn’t have any confidence. The way I play now is with a lot of confidence. It’s the complete opposite of what I used to be.

“I think coming through Brighton the coaches and the people really believed in me.

“I think you get that with playing and at Southampton I was on the sidelines a lot. But I went Brighton and went straight into the team and played.

“It’s tough when you get released and you’re not wanted. Especially when you’re young, it’s hard to deal with.

Ben White in his early days at Brighton

“You either sink or swim, but for me I obviously wanted it a lot and it was the only thing I wanted at the time so I went for it.”

Saints will surely be kicking themselves for making that decision. Albion quickly moved in and handed White a lifeline.

Loan departure

White progressed his way through Albion’s youth ranks before making his first-team debut in August 2016.

Just aged 18, he played his part in a 4-0 League Cup win over Colchester United.

Nevertheless, Brighton felt as though White needed a loan spell to help him in his development.

He was sent out to League Two side Newport County for the 2017-18 campaign. To say he made a big impression would be an understatement.

Ben White excelled at Newport County

He was named the club’s Player of the Year, and played a big part in the club’s march to the FA Cup fourth round.

Newport chief Michael Flynn says White was “the best loan signing the club has ever made”.

He also waxed lyrical, and continues to do so, about White’s potential.

“He’s unbelievable,” Flynn said. “He’s so calm, he reads the game so well and technically he’s very, very good.

“He’s just getting better and better.”

He returned to Brighton but six months later spent another spell out on loan, this time at League One Peterborough.

He made 16 appearances for Posh but it was to be his next move that really made people stand up and take notice.

Leeds plaudits

White was an ever-present in Leeds’ title-winning season

White signed for Leeds United, then in the Championship, on a season-long loan in July 2019.

It would mark the start of a memorable campaign for both the Yorkshire club and White.

He featured in all 46 league games as Marcelo Bielsa’s side sealed the title in style. White’s ability on the ball as much as his defending prowess caught the eye as he earned a spot in the PFA team of the year that season.

In January of that season England chief Gareth Southgate even came to watch White and club colleague Kalvin Phillips in action.

Upon the completion of the loan, Leeds attempted to sign White but were rebuffed with not one but two bids.

Despite the disappointment of not being able to lure White back to Elland Road, boss Marcelo Bielsa gave a classy parting comment.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa was keen to bring White back for a second spell

“All of us here admire him as a player,” Bielsa said. “We respect him and love him as a human being.

“He was an excellent professional as well as a team-mate. I hope his career allows him to grow because he deserves it.”

That summer saw White return to Brighton and pen a new four-year deal.

PL debut and England breakthrough

White started the 2020-21 campaign playing in a fourth different division for the fourth successive year, having risen from League Two to make his Premier League debut for Brighton.

He quickly took to it like a duck to water, with even more eyes now on him in the world’s richest league.

He was a mainstay in Graham Potter’s side as they maintained their top flight status and sure enough another player of the season award was having his name inscribed on it.

That gong came on the same day as White earned his first international call-up by Southgate.

He made the cut for the 26-man squad at this summer Euros and couldn’t contain his joy but also disbelief.

Ben White on England duty

“It’s been very surreal, obviously I didn’t think this was going to be happening,” he said.

“I thought I was going to be somewhere hot, in Portugal or something like that.”

Despite not getting any game time this summer as England fell narrowly short of Euro glory, White can surely bank on many more tournaments with the Three Lions for years to come.

Even with such a heavy price tag attached to his name, you get the sense that White will not let it burden him too much.

Speaking before the Euros, he believes his journey has made him what he is.

“I’ve worked hard for 10 years and it doesn’t just suddenly come in a year,” White said.

“I’ve had loans and those helped me build and perform at the level I have. I’ve played in all the divisions and always wondered if I could step up, but I’ve managed to do it.”

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