Why are Arsenal spending £50 million on Ben White?

Stefan Bienkowski
Ben White playing  for England ahead of Euro 2020

Ben White became Arsenal's first major signing of the summer, when he joined the Emirates club on a £50 million deal.

White has steadily built his reputation over the past couple of years, first helping Leeds United back into the Premier League, then doing excellent work to help secure Brighton's future in England's top flight.

It was enough to win a place in the England squad for Euro 2020, and it has earned him a big-money move to Arsenal, where he becomes the third arrival of the summer following left-back Nuno Tavares from Benfica and midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht.

However, while few would doubt that White is an outstanding Premier League defender, there may be some question marks over the amount of money Arsenal are spending on a player they may not even need.

Defence wasn’t the issue last season

Mikel Arteta's Arsenal side had one of the best defensive records in the Premier League last season

Mikel Arteta's Arsenal side had one of the best defensive records in the Premier League last season

While Arsenal may have an enduring reputation for being a little soft in defence, that couldn’t have been further from the truth based on the stats from last season’s Premier League campaign.

Indeed, Arteta’s side had the third best defence in the division and conceded just seven more goals than Manchester City’s star-studded defensive line. And when it came to conceding goals to headers, Arsenal let in just nine compared to Chelsea’s three and Man City’s four.

Arteta’s team had plenty of problems last season, but their back line probably wasn’t one of them.

They already have good central defenders

Kieran Tierney often filled in at centre back for Arsenal last season

Kieran Tierney often filled in at centre back for Arsenal last season

As one would expect from the aforementioned performances in defence last season, it stands to reason that Arsenal already have plenty of good defenders - particularly in the central positions.

Rob Holding has proven himself as an excellent Premier League central defender and new signing Gabriel was also perfectly solid in a position White will look to exert his own dominance in next season.

And it’s not as if Arsenal don’t have cover in those positions either. Not only does Arteta have Pablo Mari, but he could also turn to Kieran Tierney to fill in at centre-back, as he did competently last season.

Arsenal probably could use more cover at centre-back but spending £50m on a new defender seems a little extreme. Even if he can fill in as a right full-back from time to time.