Ben White transfer to Arsenal: How the £50m deal was done, what Graham Potter said, what next for Brighton?

Ben White has completed his move to Arsenal for a club record transfer fee received - believed to be in the region of £50m

Ben White sealed his move to Arsenal
Ben White sealed his move to Arsenal

The 23-year-old England defender has joined the Gunners on undisclosed terms, signing a long-term deal at the Emirates after completing his medical earlier today.

Head coach Graham Potter said, “Ben has come an incredible way in a short period of time, but we felt he had all the attributes to achieve what he has in the past few years.

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“From the loan spells with Newport, Peterborough and Leeds through to his debut season in the Premier League with us last season, Ben has acquitted himself with great professional at every step of the process.

“We are incredibly proud of him and what he has achieved, and much credit must go to our academy, who have played such an important role in developing Ben from a younger age.

“On behalf of everyone at the Albion, I would like to thank him for his contribution to the club, he has been a pleasure to work with ever since I arrived here, and wish him well for the future.”

White joined Albion's academy in 2016 and became a regular for the under-23s, while also featuring on the bench for the first team on numerous occasions during the 2016/17 season.

The central defender made his professional debut against Colchester United in the first round of the EFL Cup in 2016, when the Seagulls ran out 4-0 winners at the Amex Stadium. He also played 90 minutes in the next round at Oxford United, with Albion winning 4-2 on that occasion.

A move to League Two side Newport County saw the defender play 51 times for the Exiles during the 2017/18 campaign, scoring one goal and laying on five assists.

He was voted player of the season, with Newport boss Michael Flynn labelling him the club’s best-ever loan signing and tipping him for future England honours.

After spending the opening half of the 2018/19 season with Albion’s under-23s, White secured a loan move to Peterborough United, which allowed him to experience action in England’s third tier.

But it was a stellar-season at Leeds United in 2019/20, as a regular in Marcelo Bielsa's promotion-winning side, as they returned to the Premier League in style as EFL champions. He played in every league game, netting an impressive strike in his final game for Leeds against Charlton Athletic.

White signed a new four-year contract with Albion in September 2020, and went onto make his Premier League debut later on that month in a 3-1 home defeat to Chelsea. He played the most amount of minutes of any Albion player in the 2020/21 season, making 36 Premier League appearances.

His form caught the eye of England boss Gareth Southgate, who handed White his first senior cap for his country in June 2021 against Austria, before making his first start in a 1-0 victory over Romania.

After initially missing out on England's Euro 2020 squad, White replaced injured Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold in the team as part of the squad which reached the Wembley final.

How the deal was done

White, 23, visited Arsenal’s training ground at London Colney and the deal is expected to be officially announced in the coming days.

He had the first part of medical on Wednesday and is underwent the second stage on Friday.

Arsenal have been determined to land the versatile Albion man all summer after technical director Edu and manager Mikel Arteta made his signing a high priority.

Negotiations for White started in June as the Gunners saw their initial bid of £40m rejected. Brighton then knocked back an offer of £47m, before finally agreeing to the £50m fee.

It’s also thought that Albion insisted on a sell-on clause for White and will receive a percentage of any transfer fee should he leave Arsenal in the future.

White joined Brighton as a 14-year-old in 2014 having just been rejected by Southampton. He progressed well through the youth ranks and continued his development with loan spells at Newport, Peterborough and Leeds, where he helped Marcelo Bielsa’s team to the Championship title.

The England defender made 36 appearances in the Premier League for Brighton last campaign and helped Albion maintain their top flight status for a fifth consecutive season.

He impressed in a back three alongside Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster but he also has the ability to play at right back or as a defensive midfielder. He contributed to Brighton having the joint-best defence in the bottom half of the Premier League last season with 46 goals conceded.