What White's arrival means for Saliba and Arsenal's other centre-backs
Ben White’s spectacular £50 million move to Arsenal is undoubtedly a sign of intent from the London club.
Mikel Arteta’s side were far from good enough last season but the arrival of White from Brighton should suggest to fans that the club mean business this season.
However, with White’s arrival as the club’s new central defender, there will inevitably be an uneasy shift in Arsenal’s squad in order to accommodate their latest signing.
So what does White’s arrival mean for Arsenal’s current roster of central defenders?
Having joined the club just last summer for £23.4 million, Gabriel is perhaps the only central defender in Arteta’s squad that can rival White in terms of profile and the manager’s own list of preferences.
While the Brazilian took some time to settle into the Premier League and had to overcome a COVID infection, Gabriel has now established himself as one of Arsenal’s best defenders and will likely be White’s main defensive partner going forward.
Only three players played more minutes under Arteta last season than Rob Holding and while the former Bolton defender may not be the most high-profile defender in the Premier League, he has developed into a perfectly dependable defender for Arsenal.
Holding’s game time next season shouldn’t really be in doubt, but if Arteta persists with a back four then the English defender may find himself fighting with Gabriel and White for one of the two central positions.
Having joined the club as an exciting youth prospect in 2014, Calum Chambers has certainly lived up to the £18 million fee Southampton demanded but has still to really nail down a proper role in Arteta’s side.
Injury certainly limited his game time last season but there’s no doubt that Arteta struggled to find space for him in his backline last season, whether that be at centre back or on the right flank. Chambers will certainly be fighting for his spot in the team this season, now that White has joined the club.
Pablo Mari joined Arsenal from Flamengo on a permanent basis last summer, following a loan spell at the club in the 2019/20 season.
However, despite only recently joining the club, the Spaniard struggled for game time last season due to a nasty ankle injury, followed by an equally troubling calf injury. In total Mari made just 16 appearances for Arteta’s side last season.
As such, it seems as though Mari’s opportunity to prove himself in London has perhaps already passed and he’s likely now considered surplus to requirement.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of White making the move to Arsenal is what it means for the future of William Saliba.
The young French defender has long been seen as a potential star in the making after joining the club from Saint-Etienne but instead of breaking into the first team Saliba has consistently found himself on loan.
Prior to White’s arrival, Saliba was sent back to France on a loan deal to Marseille with Arsenal technical director Edu suggesting that the player wasn’t quite ready for first team football in the Premier League. A worrying suggestion for fans that hoped Saliba, rather than White, could have fixed Arteta’s defensive problems this season.