One criticism that I, and many other fans, have of football clubs is when they try to shop out of their price range.
In the past we’ve seen Arsenal linked with players that seemed way out of their budget or capabilities based on the status of the current squad and their performance over the last few years.
We often say that there is a market for a club in transition such as Arsenal, and it’s to take a gamble on players a step earlier than they would have previously in order to build a top squad for the future before the big boys start circling around them.
When Leicester do their business and sign the likes of Wesley Fofana, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans it’s because they’re willing to take the plunge earlier than the top teams.
Tielamans and Fofana weren’t cheap either, costing a combined £70m for a club who have only ever finished in the top four once in Premier League history. But the way they have turned out and become top players, they could now probably command that combined fee for each player individually.
Alternatively, they could build a side full of top talents who can now help them to challenge the bigger more equipped sides in the country. Sadly for Arsenal fans, as much as it may hurt, that is the bubble they’re in now.
Signing the likes of Thomas Partey is huge and something that the history of the club can afford them to do. They’re still a giant club globally and do have some name value when it comes to attracting stars.
But something that Mikel Arteta is doing this summer seems to be targeting is that young talent that can help them to bridge the gap. The exit of David Luiz this summer means that they need a centre back and for whatever reason, he doesn’t rate William Saliba whatsoever.
So the best way to replace him is to bring in a young, talented defender that he can develop into a top level player for the club in the long-term. That man is seemingly Brighton’s Ben White.
He shone for Leeds United in the Championship two seasons ago and then last year was great for the Seagulls, showing that he can cope in the Premier League. He then stepped into the England squad for Gareth Southgate at the last minute for Euro 2020, replacing the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Arteta would have seen him play centre-back in a four or three, wing-back, right-back or even defensive midfield. That helps him to solve several problems within his squad with just one signing.
He’s clearly a very talented young player with plenty of room to improve and a big fee is only ever remembered when the player doesn’t do well. Nobody talks about the £75m Virgil Van Dijk cost Liverpool, or the £50m Manchester City spent on Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling.
If White becomes a successful purchase as Arsenal clearly anticipate he will, then the fee becomes irrelevant.
Getting in a young, super talented player is a good thing for Arsenal and while the fee represents a huge outlay on a gamble, it’s one that they’re best placed to make.
They’re finally shopping in the right markets and they’re one of the biggest sharks in that pool, it’s time to make a splash.