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Arsenal approach for £52m La Liga star raises huge Ben White transfer question

Arsenal have reportedly made an approach for Barcelona defender Jules Kounde
-Credit: (Image: Anthony Dibon/Icon Sport via Getty Images)


Arsenal are reportedly interested in signing Jules Kounde from Barcelona this summer after the French international’s participation at the European Championships comes to a close. According to Spanish outlet Sport, Arsenal have reportedly sounded out the Blaugrana in regard to quantifying a potential move for the defender.

Barcelona signed Kounde from Sevilla for €50million (£43million) two years ago and would reportedly be willing to part with the 25-year-old for €60million (£52million) this summer. He would become the most expensive defender the club has signed, eclipsing the £50million paid for Benjamin White in 2021.

For Arsenal, Kounde would almost certainly fulfill a right-back role alongside his compatriot William Saliba. Although, with the Arsenal defender currently playing left-centre back and Jurrien Timber now being fit, could Kounde move to right centre-half with Saliba continuing in the position he’s occupying internationally?

What this means is further questions for Ben White. White had an excellent campaign, his best yet in an Arsenal shirt and despite the absence of Timber the England international in waiting, as some might describe him, was for many the league’s best.

Looking into some comparisons between White and Kounde and it is a good battle. In terms of profiles, White looks like a better all-round player but some of Kounde’s specialities, particularly in progression and passing means he offers variety to Mikel Arteta in addition to versatility.

Starting with passing, according to FBRef, Kounde ranks among the 96th percentile of progressive passers and in terms of pass completion in the 99th. This compares to White who is in the 92nd and 85th for the respective metrics.

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The Frenchman is playing 6.86 progressive passes per 90 compared to White’s 5.84, and the pass completion of 89.5% over 84.3%. That said White’s shot-creating actions per 90 of 2.48 is better than Kounde’s 1.79.

It is worth pointing out here, however, for context, that White played every game for Arsenal as a right-back. Meanwhile, Kounde played 27 games at right-back but 21 as a centre-half and therefore his offensive metrics may have been somewhat restricted by this.

Defensively however it is good to compare the two. Kounde attempted 1.15 tackles per 90 to White’s 1.45 but had a better success rate in them at 54.9% to White’s 44.8%.

Aerially both are very similar with White winning 62.1% of his aerial duels and Kounde winning 61.7%. Kounde is however more error-prone with five errors leading to a goal last season compared to White’s one – this will be something supporters latch on to when coming to their own conclusions for sure.

For me, it seems odd that with White, Timber and Takehiro Tomiyasu available that a right-sided defender would be targeted. The links to left-sided Riccardo Calafiori seem to make far more sense especially if Jakub Kiwior is to leave this summer too and for what could be much less money than Kounde although there is never much wrong about improving the quality of depth in the squad.