Arsenal have been looking to strengthen their squad following a disappointing 2020-21 season and are close to signing Brighton defender Ben White.
White, who was a member of England’s Euro 2020 squad, has impressed with his performances on the south coast and Arsenal are preparing to pay a £50million fee for his services.
We’ve rounded up some of the best quotes on the defender from his coaches, team-mates and pundits.
After impressing during loan spells across the Football League, White’s season at Leeds in 2019-20 was the making of the young defender.
“All of us here admire him as a player,” Bielsa said in January 2021. “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.”
Having earned rave reviews at Leeds, White returned to Brighton ahead of 2020-21 and made a seamless transition to Premier League football.
“I have got to mention Ben White, there is a centre back there who is going to go right to the top,” Redknapp told Sky Sports in September 2020.
“He is so comfortable on the ball, you can see why Leeds wanted to keep him. That young man is destined for an amazing future, he’s comfortable on the ball, brilliant defensively and I love him.”
The Arsenal legend has backed his former club’s pursuit of White on talkSPORT, saying he fits the profile of players Arsenal need to be attracting.
“People of that quality need to be coming to Arsenal,” Seaman said. “I think we’re going down that route of players where they have young, promising with careers ahead of them.
“The days of signing marquee players – that are right on it now – Arsenal will struggle with that as they’re not in Europe.”
Townsend played against White in the Premier League and has claimed he is ideal for both Arsenal and England.
Speaking on talkSPORT, the Crystal Palace winger said: “Even before he played for England, I knew Ben White was a top player.
“When we played Brighton I was tasked with marking him, trying to close him down, press high up the pitch and get close to him, but I couldn’t get near him!
“He’s so composed on the ball, I was putting my best work in, trying to get close and put him under pressure, but before I could get to him he’d popped it off and they were out.
“If this deal goes over the line, I know Arsenal are getting a top player.”
The former Leeds man is certain that the England international will be a success at the Emirates.
“He’s fantastic on the ball. White is one of the England defenders for the future. I think he will be in that squad for a very long time,” Whelan told Football Insider in June 2021.
“He has everything you need from a modern-day centre half and he can play that role in front of the back four. Great stature, good in the air, great pace about him, he’s what Arsenal have been missing. Some pace at the back.
“He offers everything and for £40million pounds, I guarantee you he’ll be worth double that in two or three years time. If they do get that over the line they are getting a fantastic centre half at a great age.”
— Super 6 (@Super6) October 1, 2019
White’s spell at Newport was a successful one, playing 42 times and winning the South Wales Argus Player of the Year Award for 2017-18.
Flynn, the manager at Newport County, called him the best loan signing the club has ever made and went on to tell the Yorkshire Evening Post: “He has got stacks of ability, very level-headed, no ego, he was a joy to work with day in and day out.
“He was marvellous for us [on loan], he had an opportunity to leave us in January but he didn’t want to, he wanted to continue his learning.”
After White’s inclusion in England’s Euro 2020 squad, the Brighton academy manager said: “We’re all very proud of Ben. He’s a great story for any young player. There’s hope for everyone. Be the best you can and see where you end up.”
Morling went on to say: “He’s so calm, nothing fazes Ben. Any hurdles, he just jumps over. He just looks like he’s been there for years.
“He’s got a great work ethic, his attitude is first class. Speak to anyone at the clubs he’s been at and they’ll say he’s such a nice person. It’s really nice to see nice things happen to nice people.”
While White didn’t feature for England during Euro 2020, he made a hue impression on his team-mates, including Bukayo Saka.
“I was impressed the most by Ben White because obviously, I haven’t seen him a lot this season,” Saka told ITV Sport. “Coming here and playing with him I’ve been impressed with him.”
👏 “I’ve seen him quite a lot. He’s a very versatile defender. You can play him in a 3, most certainly so.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) July 18, 2021
Brighton technical director Dan Ashworth, who once served as the Football Association’s director of elite development, is full of praise over White’s progress.
Speaking to The Atheltic, Ashworth said: “He’s such a good lad, such a good professional. He’s had some adversity in his life as well. It’s not been a smooth and easy ride.
“He’s been released from Southampton, he started his loan spells in League Two, so he’s had to come through the leagues and do it the hard way.
“When we sent him on loan to Leeds after half a season at Peterborough, we thought it could be really good, but also one where he doesn’t play much. Fortunately, he got in and stayed in, played in every minute of every game.
“They came in quite heavily for him last summer but we just felt he’s a homegrown player, he’s come through our system, we were pretty confident he would be a Premier League player and help us. It was a good decision in the end.”