Arsenal urged to drop ‘overrated’ Ben White for brilliant youngster

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By Martin Graham | 1st Jul 2022

Mikel Arteta should make a bold change and drop ‘overrated’ Ben White in defence and replace him with returning loan star William Saliba, claims Gabriel Agbonlahor.

White moved to Arsenal last summer from Brighton in a 50m deal and has since been part of the club’s first choice defensive pairing, alongside Gabriel Magalhaes.

Elsewhere, Saliba enjoyed a fruitful campaign on loan at Marseille, playing a key role as the French side finished a spot behind league champions Paris Saint-Germain.

Saliba was among the best individual players in the French top flight and also won the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award. After much speculation over his future, he has since returned to Arsenal in a bid to fight for Arteta’s favour.

The Frenchman is yet to play an official game in an Arsenal jersey since making a 27m move  from Saint-Etienne in 2019.

Many Arsenal fans and neutrals like rate the Frenchman highly and many claim he is even good enough to start in the Premier League. Mikel Arteta was of the opinion that the player needed more development and has probably now come of age.

Ex-Aston Villa forward Agbonlahor has a rather controversial opinion and believes Saliba should usurp White’s spot in the Arsenal defence ahead of another top four bid next term.

After narrowly missing out on a Champions League spot to city rivals Tottenham, the Gunners had a poor defensive record with 48 goals conceded, which was eight more than they shipped in during the 2020-21 season.

Agbonlahor rates Saliba over Ben White

Agbonlahor is of the opinion that Mikel Arteta should look away from Ben White, who is just another ‘overrated’ English player.

“I’ve watched Saliba a few times and he’s got that speed that you like to see in a centre-half, and he’s very good at making the right decision at the right time”, the 35-year-old said in an interview with Football Insider.

“Arsenal’s defence is nowhere near good enough to get top-four. For me, Ben White is very overrated, I watched him against Newcastle towards the end of the season and he was absolutely dreadful.”

“He lacks pace, he lacks aggression. Yes, he’s good on the ball but he’s not a defensive midfielder, he’s a centre-half.”

“Arsenal need two centre-halves who are no nonsense and have both got speed. For me, Gabriel and Saliba would be my starters next season. “

“With Ben White, I think Brighton are laughing at getting the fee they got for him because he’s not good enough.”

The jury is still out on Ben White but it’s a far reach to say he has not shown some stability since he came into the Arsenal backline.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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