Arsenal are in the midst of one of their biggest transfer windows in their recent history.
After finishing eighth in the Premier League last term and missing out on a place in Europe for the first time in 25 years, the Gunners, who will lock horns with newly-promoted Brentford on the opening day of the 2021/22 season, are keen to strengthen their squad in an attempt to reclaim some pride and put a forgettable campaign behind them.
As well as looking to strengthen the central attacking-midfield position as a matter of urgency, the Gunners are also keen on strengthening their central-defensive options.
According to Sky Sports, the north London club have seen an opening bid of £40million turned down for Brighton & Hove Albion and England defender Ben White, although talks between the two clubs remain ongoing.
White, who was called up to the England squad to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold ahead of the European Championship starting last week, is considered as one of the most exciting, young defenders in English football, with the 23-year-old having gone from strength to strength in recent seasons.
After playing a key role in Leeds United’s Championship title-winning campaign in 2019/20, starting all 46 of their league outings, White returned to Brighton for the 2020/21 season and soon became a mainstay in Graham Potter’s defensive line. Again, White’s punctuality was exemplary, playing in all but two of the Seagulls’ 38 Premier League matches.
Playing in a back-three, White was nothing short of outstanding for the duration of the season, making it clear why so many big-name clubs have been linked with his signature.
Now, Arsenal are the latest to stress their interest, with the Gunners having tabled a £40million offer. Although it has been rejected, it is reported that talks between the two clubs are ongoing and the north Londoners are prepared to increase their bid.
If Arsenal were to make an improved offer, see it accepted and they manage to lure White to the Emirates Stadium, you can be rest assured that the 2021/22 home shirt with ‘White’ on the back would be popular. But what number would the former Newport County and Peterborough United loanee take if he was to seal a move to north London?
Well, it would appear that White, who will be hoping to play at least some part in England’s two remaining Euro 2020 Group D clashes against Scotland and the Czech Republic in the next week, has a preferred option, that being the No.5 shirt.
The former Leeds loanee wore it during his time at Elland Road and for four seasons in Brighton’s academy. This season just gone he has worn No.3, with Seagulls skipper Lewis Dunk the current holder of No.5.
Whilst shirt No.5 seems to be White’s most preferred, he has worn other numbers in the past – and plenty of them, including two, four, six and 28.
But considering White has worn No.5 frequently in the past, he is a centre-back, a position commonly accustomed with the No.5 shirt, and that particular number is currently available in north London, it is likely that he would choose it if he was to join the Gunners this summer.
However, White would not be the only man eyeing up that particular number, as Thomas Partey could be keen to swap numbers ahead of the start of the new season. He wore No.5 for four seasons at Atletico Madrid, but had to take the No.18 shirt upon his arrival at the Emirates Stadium last October because No.5 was held by former defender Sokratis.
With that said, White may have to battle it out with Partey for the No.5 shirt for the 2021/22 campaign if the former completes a summer switch.
But what other numbers could White choose from if he fancied a change of heart in his new surroundings? Here, football.london has taken a quick look at some of those that are currently available to be snapped up.
Dani Ceballos, who has recently returned to Real Madrid, held the No.8 shirt for two seasons, meaning that is available once again for the new campaign. However, it is not a number you tend to associate with a centre-back.
The summer window is officially open, and it’s going to be tough to keep up with the comings and goings in and out of the Emirates.
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The No.10 shirt has been available since Mesut Ozil joined Fenerbahce on a free transfer back in January. Like Ceballos’ vacated No.8 shirt, this is also a number you do not associate with a central-defender. However, former defender William Gallas did wear it for a time.
Technically, the No.11 shirt still belongs to Lucas Torreira. But considering clubs mix up their squad numbers at the start of every season, and the Uruguayan is likely to leave, that is likely to become vacant.
Shkodran Mustafi was the last man to wear the No.20 shirt, before he departed back in January. White could continue its trend of being worn by a defender.
David Luiz will leave Arsenal when his contract expires at the end of the month and the No.23 will soon become vacant, meaning White, again, could continue its legacy by allowing it to be associated with a central-defender.