Former Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend has suggested that Ben White would be the ideal signing for Arsenal this summer, with the Brighton and Hove Albion defender able to suit Mikel Arteta’s preferred strategy of playing out from the back. White, who is currently on England duty for Euro 2020, has been heavily linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium ahead of next season.
Arteta is believed to be keen on mounting a large-scale overhaul of his playing squad this summer in order to build on last season’s disappointing eighth-placed finish in the Premier League.
The Spaniard attempted to instill a ball-playing style in his first full campaign at the helm, but his insistence on defenders starting attacks led to a number of high-profile errors which saw his side miss out on crucial opportunities to spark an upturn in fortunes.
Martin Odegaard, David Luiz and Dani Ceballos gifted Olympiakos three opportunities to score when passing the ball around in Arsenal’s defensive third back in March.
Meanwhile, Granit Xhaka’s mistake at Turf Moor in the same month allowed Burnley striker Chris Wood to pounce and steal a point for the hosts at the expense of the Gunners.
Arsenal are understood to be targeting the addition of White in order to boost their defensive ranks ahead of the new campaign, with reports suggesting that a transfer fee in the region of £50million has been discussed with Brighton.
Townsend, who made 34 league appearances for Palace last season, has weighed in on the speculation by claiming that White would be the perfect addition to Arteta’s squad.
The 29-year-old highlighted the Brighton man’s ability to play the ball out from the back with ease, suggesting that he could thrive at the north London club as they eye a return to the Premier League’s upper reaches.
“Even before he played for England, I knew Ben White was a top player,” Townsend told talkSPORT.
“I’m surprised he wasn’t in the original England squad because I think he’s the perfect player that Gareth [Southgate] wants. He’s calm and composed on the ball, he can play out from the back.
“When we played Brighton I was tasked with marking him, trying to close him down, press high up the pitch and get close to him, but I couldn’t get near him.
“He’s so composed on the ball, I was putting my best work in, trying to get close and put him under pressure, but before I could get to him he’d popped it off and they were out.
“If this deal goes over the line, I know Arsenal are getting a top player. Maybe not as a leader, no, but I know the way Mikel Arteta likes to play.
“And Ben White, maybe not vocally but definitely technically, he’d fit in perfectly with the way they want to build up from the back.”
Meanwhile, former Palace owner Simon Jordan recently expressed his confusion over Arsenal’s interest in White, claiming that the defender is more than capable of playing in a better side.
“Why would he want to go there? There’s other steps up for him that are far more compelling than Arsenal,” said Jordan.
“If Ben White is now in the international squad and is revered the way he is because he’s a top quality player, why are Arsenal in the mix?
“Arsenal are all over the place. If you’re comparing Brighton and Arsenal then, yes, Arsenal is a step up.
“But you’re talking about someone who is in the England squad who people inside the game think is an absolute Rolls-Royce.
“What is the move to Arsenal for? Because they are a long way away from where they need to be.”