Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta spoke with young winger Bukayo Saka about his opinion on centre-back Ben White before pulling the trigger on the £50m deal to sign him.
White followed Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga in sealing moves to the Emirates Stadium this summer after the Gunners decided the 23-year-old was the perfect man around which to build their new-look defence.
Club scouts had been tracking White for over a year, but as noted by The Athletic, Arteta was keen to hear from Saka about his experiences with the centre-back in the England camp at Euro 2020 before making a final decision.
White did not see any minutes during the tournament but he spent the entire summer training with the Three Lions, and Arteta is believed to have reached out to Saka to ask for his feedback on White.
The winger was overwhelming positive about White, insisting he would fit in both as a player and a personality, and that left Arteta convinced that he was making the right move.
Official talks between the two clubs first began back in June, when Brighton made it abundantly clear that they were not prepared to bow down to the Gunners. White had recently become an England international and Brighton were prepared to demand every penny of the value that comes with that cap.
Arsenal first offered up £42m for the youngster, but Brighton refused to budge and insisted it would be £50m or nothing. The Seagulls then knocked back a further four bids, and Arsenal eventually accepted defeat and paid up.
The £50m fee was actually agreed a while back, but talks dragged on over arranging a payment plan and the details of a sell-on clause, although both sides remained positive throughout and their civil relationship remains intact.
White spoke with Arteta to gauge his plans for the defender, and in those discussions, it was made clear that Arsenal plan to add more new faces before the summer transfer window closes.
While it’s not clear which players are now being targeted, the Gunners are known to be targeting additions in a handful of positions. A new goalkeeper and central midfielder are thought to be priorities, but there are also hopes to land a new striker and right-back as well.