Ben White England decision gives forgotten Arsenal transfer new focus amid summer battle

Ben White will not join up with the England squad this summer
Ben White will not join up with the England squad this summer -Credit:David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

The England squad has been announced and one of the less surprising decisions made was taken entirely out of Gareth Southgate's hands, he has claimed, with Benjamin White staying behind with Arsenal this summer. Revealed during the final round of friendlies, Southgate explained that the Gunners' defender has blocked the potential of a call-up.

"On form, I can't sit here and say [White] doesn't deserve to be in," said Southgate in March. "John McDermott had a call from Edu last week to say Ben didn't want to be considered for England squads at this time.

"That's a great shame, he's a player I really like, he's a player we took to the Euros when he was at Brighton, to the World Cup. I spoke to him post-Qatar because I wanted to pick him. There was clearly reticence from his side, I don't know fully why that is."

White has never publicly explained the decision and has not faced questions on the topic since then. White finished the season with Arsenal as their starting right-back, initially joining the club from Brighton as a centre-half in 2021.

In the final match of the season against Everton, White was substituted with the game at 1-1 for the returning Jurrien Timber. The Dutch international had missed almost all of the season but returned to help the side record a late victory over Everton.

Speaking to after the game, Timber explained that he was not looking to play in any specific position. Instead, it was clear that he was simply just happy to be part of the group.

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"To be fair, at this point, now I am fit, I am happy if I can play," he said. "Just being fit is nice to be there. If the coach wants to use me anywhere, I’ll play."

White and Timber could indeed be fighting one another for the main right-back spot next season. understands that a left-back is still on the menu for the Gunners' summer search with Timber an option across the back four and Arteta’s ruthless squad selection no one is safe.

Staying behind with Timber, who was not called up for Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands side, will give Arteta plenty of time to get the pair working together. They can play on both sides of the back four and White could become an option to rotate William Saliba after he played every minute of the 2023/24 league season – the first Arsenal player to do so since Lee Dixon.

Any player not away at a summer tournament is beneficial to the club. The concern over injury diminishes dramatically and extra time off can be given to recover from a tough season – this is definitely good news for the Gunners.