Arteta says White can “be extraordinary” as he hails Arsenal summer signing

The Gunners splashed out to make ex-Brighton star White their third most expensive signing ever and he is beginning to show his quality after a shaky start under Arteta

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Mikel Arteta is convinced Arsenal have invested wisely in Ben White as he believes the £50million defender can “be extraordinary”.

The 23-year-old is slowly beginning to find his feet at the Emirates after a tricky start following his summer switch from Brighton.

White faced criticism after the opening day defeat by Brentford, with Gary Neville branding him “a target” for opposition strikers and suggested he faced a “reality check” now he was at a top six club.

But after missing two matches due to a bout of Covid, White has been on good form in Arsenal’s last three fixtures, forming the makings of what could be a sturdy partnership with team-mate Gabriel.

And boss Arteta has no concerns his new centre-back will prove a hit in north London for years to come.

Mikel Arteta has backed Ben White to be a success at Arsenal


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“We bought Ben because we believe that he can be extraordinary,” Arteta said. “I’ve been very impressed with how he handles the pressure, the situation of coming through the Euros, the big fee, the composure he shows.

“He still doesn’t have that much experience in the league, he is not mature in that sense – but he is already shown his qualities. He has been selected for the national team which is not a coincidence, and the way he has adapted is impressive.

“The potential is there. Now it is how he can fulfil that. Ben knows he will be asked questions in this league, because it is one of the most demanding positions to play. At the moment he is doing it.”

White has missed out on the last two England squads since his involvement at Euro 2020, despite Gareth Southgate being without Harry Maguire.

Conor Coady, Tyrone Mings and John Stones are all ahead of him in the Three Lions’ pecking order as it stands, while AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori was recalled ahead of White for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers this month.

Concerns over White’s defensive capabilities have come to the fore since his move, given much of the praise he is afforded tends to be in relation to his ability on the ball – something the aforementioned Neville feels is now a common trait among all elite top six defenders.

Yet Arteta is under no illusions of where White’s priorities lie.

“He has to defend first – do everything we have asked him to do defensively,” Arteta added.

What are your thoughts on the Gabriel-White partnership? Have your say below.

Gabriel and Ben White have kept two clean sheets in their three matches together


AFP via Getty Images)

“But we bought Ben because he has that ability to break lines. He has that composure to make the right decision. But first of all he needs to defend, and he is doing that really well.”

Centre-back partner Gabriel has also offered an insight into the demands of his manager in a recent interview with Sky Sports.

The pairing are the youngest centre-back partnership in the top flight, but Gabriel insists he and White are progressing with every game they play alongside each other.

“Ben and I have each had a full season in the Premier League now and we’re getting to know it much better. We still need to connect even more but we are improving and developing with every game and that bodes well for the rest of the season.

“We want to be a very intense and aggressive defence.”

Asked about Arteta’s requirements, Gabriel replied: “The manager wants his central defenders to defend well, first and foremost. He wants us to know the moments to attack and the moments to defend. That’s what we are trying to do, and we know now when to drop deep and when to push up.

“Having good timing on the pitch is essential and he talks to us about that a lot. He also tells us how every game is different here because we’re up against players with different attributes.”

He added: “It’s only the beginning but I think we have the makings of a very good partnership, in terms of our attributes.”

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