Arsenal splashed out a club record £50million to land England international Ben White, but he hasn’t enjoyed a perfect start to his career at The Emirates
Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn has warned fans that club record signing Ben White will need time to adjust before he is really judged.
The former Brighton defender, who completed a £50million move in the summer window has endured a less than ideal start to his Gunners career.
After being targeted in Brentford’s opening day win over the Gunners, with Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville both suggesting the Bees laid out a blueprint on how to disrupt him.
Following the 2-0 defeat Neville told Sky Sports: “If you’re playing Arsenal next week, you’ll be thinking, ‘We’ll stick it on him, we’ll put it up against him, we’ll put our big man on him on set-pieces’, and he will be a target.
“He’s got a £50m price tag and he’ll have to come through those early months of pressure and expectation and people like us talking about him.”
Carragher shared those concerns, suggesting he wasn’t good enough in the air to become a truly commanding central defender in the Premier League.
And after that chastening defeat, White contracted Covid-19, ruling him out of the next two league games, which saw Mikel Arteta’s side ship a further nine goals.
White and Arsenal have kept clean sheets in the last two league encounters, beating Norwich and Burnley 1-0 on consecutive weekends.
But it hasn’t been flawless from White, who almost gifted Burnley a route back into the game at Turf Moor, thanks to an under-hit back pass.
Matej Vydra latched onto it and was initially awarded a penalty after going down under a challenge from Aaron Ramsdale – only for VAR to spare his blushes.
It gets no easier this weekend, when Arsenal take on north London rivals Tottenham, with White likely to be tasked with keeping Harry Kane quiet.
And Winterburn, who made more than 400 appearances during his 13-year stay at Arsenal has pleaded for patience with the summer acquisition.
“Ben White needs time to settle in at Arsenal. When I played, and even now when I’m doing analysis, we should give players six months to settle into a club,” he told Paddy Power.
“But when you cost £50m and you’re thrust into the first team, you’re going to be judged immediately.
“You’re coming to a team who have historically been so good. They’re one of the biggest teams in the league, despite being in a difficult period.
“He’ll be judged differently to when he was at Brighton. I don’t know whether he’s looked nervy or on edge, but he needs time to settle in and play with that back four.
“If I was a manager and giving him advice, what I would say to him is decision-making. Playing out from the back is all about risk assessment.
“It doesn’t matter what a manager asks you to do, if Ben thinks it’s too risky to do that, he has to take the other option. He has to think more while he’s playing.”