Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has backed summer signing Ben White to be an ‘extraordinary’ defender for the club, following some encouraging displays from the £50m man in recent games.
The 23-year-old was the most expensive addition in an extensive summer of recruitment by the Gunners, with the centre-back moving to the Emirates after a strong debut campaign in the top-flight with Brighton last season, having previously impressed for Leeds in the Championship prior to that.
That price tag has undoubtedly brought with it a level of pressure and expectation for the young England international, who was a late call-up to Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad over the summer, albeit without making an appearance in the competition.
The former Seagulls man looked shaky on debut in the defeat to Brentford back in August and had a disrupted start to life in north London following a positive Covid-19 test, yet has looked far more assured in recent games with Arteta’s men claiming three successive Premier League victories, including against bitter rivals Tottenham on Sunday.
Ahead of a clash with White’s former club Brighton on Saturday evening, the Gunners boss has insisted that the versatile defender will go on to be an ‘extraordinary’ player for the club.
“We brought him because we believe that he can be extraordinary,” Arteta said of White.
“He doesn’t have that much experience in the league still. He has experience with Leeds and the experience he had with Brighton for a year, so he is not mature in that sense, but he has already shown his qualities and what he can do. The way he has adapted to us is impressive so the potential is there.”
The centre-back has already illustrated his knack of bringing the ball out from the back while working under Graham Potter at the Amex Stadium, although his new manager has admitted that it is the defensive side of the game that must take precedence.
“He has to defend first … and that’s his biggest task,” he said. “After that we bought him because he has that ability to break lines, to progress the ball the way we want it.
“He has that composure and calmness to make the right decision. But first of all he needs to defend and I think he is doing that really, really well.”