Arsenal eyeing £51m-rated sensation as “world-class” Ben White upgrade

The incredibly talented full-back could displace White from the side.

The end of the 2023/24 season is rapidly approaching, and Arsenal are still very much in the Premier League title race and the hunt for an elusive Champions League.

Mikel Arteta’s side have come on leaps and bounds from the team that so spectacularly fell apart around this time last year, and while they would’ve loved to have taken all three points from the Etihad, one point is a dramatic improvement on what happened there last season.

It was a seriously impressive team effort to keep the treble winners from scoring on the day, and while each of the starters has proven their worth to the team, there is one whose place could be in danger based on recent reports, Ben White.

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Latest Arsenal transfer news

According to a recent report from the Spanish publication Sport (via ESPN), Arsenal are one of several clubs set to ‘battle’ it out for the signature of Manchester City’s full-back João Cancelo.

The report has revealed that while Barcelona would like to keep the Portuguese defender beyond his current season-long loan deal, their financial situation makes it a complex deal to complete, even though they believe the player would prefer to stay in Spain.

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This is especially true as the other interested parties include several clubs from the outrageously wealthy Saudi Pro League and the Gunners, who are in a considerably more robust financial position than the Catalans.

No transfer fee has been reported as yet, and it remains to be seen just how keen the defending champions would be to deal with a direct rival.

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Still, with it looking increasingly unlikely that he’ll be reintroduced into the fold at the Etihad, the CIES Football Observatory has valued the defender at around €60m, which is about £51m, a price that could be seen as fair given his quality.

How Cancelo compares to White

Now, while it might have seemed bizarre to compare these two full-backs just a few years ago, given the very different states of their respective clubs, it certainly isn’t today.

White has firmly established himself as one of the best right-backs in the country this season, and while his start to the campaign was perhaps a little disappointing, he has been one of the Gunners’ most important players since the turn of the year, providing three assists, scoring one goal and keeping five clean sheets in ten starts.

In all, the former Brighton & Hove ace has made 123 appearances for Arsenal – with 76 of those at right-back – in which he has scored four goals and provided nine assists, meaning he’s averaged a goal involvement every 9.4 games.

In contrast, the “world-class” City star, as Julian Nagelsmann described him, has made 154 appearances for the Sky Blues, in which he has scored nine goals and provided 22 assists, giving him a slightly better average of a goal involvement every 4.9 games.

So, with the former Juventus ace having a better attacking average in English football but the Poole-born star having a more recent body of work to judge, who comes out on top regarding their underlying numbers?

Well, once again, it’s not entirely one-sided. According to FBref, both players excel in certain metrics and not in others, but overall, it is the current Barça man who comes out on top.

He produces a higher non-penalty expected goals and assists figure, significantly more progressive carries, more shots on target, more shot and goal-creating actions, wins more tackles, makes more ball recoveries and is far more successful in his take-ons.

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