Perhaps the worst-kept secret in English football is out – Ben White has completed his move to Arsenal for a club record transfer fee received, reported to be £50 million.
The 23-year-old England defender has joined the Gunners on undisclosed terms, signing a long-term deal at the Emirates after completing his medical earlier today.
Head coach Graham Potter said: “Ben has come an incredible way in a short period of time but we felt he had all the attributes to achieve what he has in the past few years.
“From the loan spells with Newport, Peterborough and Leeds through to his debut season in the Premier League with us last season, Ben has acquitted himself with great professionalism at every step of the process.
“We are incredibly proud of him and what he has achieved and much credit must go to our academy who have played such an important role in developing Ben from a younger age.
“On behalf of everyone at the Albion, I would like to thank him for his contribution to the club. He has been a pleasure to work with ever since I arrived here and wish him well for the future.”
White joined Albion’s academy in 2016 and became a regular for the under-23s while also featuring on the bench for the first team on numerous occasions during the 2016-17 season.
The central defender made his professional debut against Colchester United in the first round of the EFL Cup in 2016 when the Seagulls ran out 4-0 winners at the Amex Stadium. He also played 90 minutes in the next round at Oxford United, with Albion winning 4-2 on that occasion.
A spell with Sky Bet League Two side Newport County followed. White played 51 times for the Exiles during the 2017-18 campaign, scoring one goal and laying on five assists.
He was voted player of the season, with Newport boss Michael Flynn labelling him the club’s best-ever loan signing and tipping him for future England honours.
After spending the opening half of the 2018-19 season with Albion’s under-23s, White secured a loan move to Peterborough United which allowed him to experience action in England’s third tier.
He then enjoyed a stellar season at Leeds United in 2019-20 as a regular in Marcelo Bielsa’s promotion-winning side as they returned to the Premier League in style as EFL champions. He played in every league game, netting an impressive strike in his final match for Leeds against Charlton Athletic.
White signed a new four-year contract with Albion in September last year and went on to make his Premier League debut later that month in a 3-1 home defeat to Chelsea.
He played the most amount of minutes of any Albion player in the 2020-21 season, was Player of the Season and leaves having made 36 top-flight appearances for the Seagulls.
Gareth Southgate called him up as part of his squad for the Euro 2020 finals this year – delayed by the coronavirus pandemic – although his two caps came from the warm up matches against Austria and Romania.