Mikel Arteta says Ben White is loving life as Arsenal’s right-back having taken on the role on a near full-time basis since the start of the season.
Signed from Brighton in the summer of 2021, the England international played 34 times as a centre-back in his debut campaign striking up a very decent partnership with Gabriel Magalhaes.
It was thought he’d compete with the Brazilian and the returning William Saliba for a similar role this time out but after covering for Takehiro Tomiyasu in pre-season, the boss has been happy to deploy him as a full-back with the responsibility to invert.
“I think he is very happy,” said Arteta ahead of the match with Chelsea.
“I think he is really enjoying it. He finds himself with a bit of freedom and you can see, when he has space, how he likes to attack. I think he is happy there.””
“He has this capacity,” added the boss when asked if he was surprised by White’s versatility.
“Physically he is a really special player. He is very intelligent and very gifted, and he has a lot of courage to play this game.
“If you tell him to play in midfield, he will. And he will give his best.”
Interestingly, he did play in midfield on four occasions for Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds as they earned promotion to the Premier League in 2019/20. In theory, he should be a shoo-in for England’s World Cup squad but Southgate can be a bit of a numpty and hasn’t included the player in his last couple of squads.
Alongside White, Gabriel and Saliba are also flourishing. The pair were quick to strike up a friendship in pre-season with Saliba able to speak French to the Brazilian who’d picked up the language during his time at Lille.
Touching on their partnership, Arteta said: “Really good, really natural. There is a connection, a personal connection first. You can feel it. There is chemistry.
“I think they make each other better with the qualities that they have, and I think they have been really really consistent in terms of their performance as well.
On how the duo communicate, he revealed: “It’s a mix. Between French, English, Brazilian. Sometimes I don’t get it but they understand each other so it’s fine. They get it.”