Ben White £50m Arsenal transfer: Why Brighton already have a surprise defensive replacement

Brighton look well covered in defensive areas and a chunk of the expected £50m Ben White money should be invested in attack

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 11:31 am
Brighton defender Ben White is set to move to Arsenal this summer

Meat and cheese are two of life’s greatest pleasures. Real meat lovers appreciate the difference that a high-quality carving knife makes to the point where it is an essential item in any silverware collection.

Imagine for a second that somebody was willing to give you £50 for your carving knife. You decide to sell, knowing that you have another carving knife stashed away in a cupboard somewhere that has the potential to do an equally good job of cutting meat.

Would you then go and use £15 of the money received to buy a new replacement carving knife which in reality you do not need? Or would you be better off investing that £15 in an item that you are lacking, such as a really good cheeseboard?

Albion defender Leo Ostigard impressed in the Championship with Coventry last season

For meat, cheese and matters of the stomach, see Ben White Leo Ostigard and Brighton & Hove Albion. At the time of writing, White was set to complete a medical which would rubber stamp his £50 million transfer to Arsenal. A deserved move for a player who has everything needed to go to the top of the game.

Brighton’s attention will now turn to how replace White. Liverpool defender Nat Phillips has been linked with a £15 million move, suggesting that the Albion might be looking to spend money to strengthen in the centre back department.

Why though fork out for Phillips or a White replacement when Ostigard is waiting in the wings? Especially when Brighton are so clearly crying out for a clinical centre forward who can end their xG nightmare and push the club away from a fifth successive season battling relegation.

Ostigard enjoyed an excellent 2020-21 campaign on loan in the Championship at Coventry City. There would be little point sending him back to second tier this season as he has already proven himself.

For his part, Ostigard is an ambitious young man. He has stated he wants to be playing first team football at a club where he is under permanent contract to help kick his career on. If Brighton cannot give him that, then he will seek a move to somewhere that can.

From what we saw against Rangers in Brighton’s first pre-season friendly, Ostigard looks good enough to be pushing for a spot in Graham Potter’s starting XI this season. He was rock solid defensively in the 45 minutes he was on the pitch but the thing that stood out most was his leadership.

Ostigard played as the central defender in a back three. On one side, he had Steve Alzate who presumably has never played as a centre back in his life before the trip to Ibrox. On the other, 18-year-old Belgian defender Antef Tsoungui was making his senior bow.

The wing backs were even less experienced. On the right, 19-year-old Ayo Tanimowo. On the left, 19-year-old James Furlong. Another two teenagers both appearing in the first team for the first time.

Watching that second half, it was easy to forget that Ostigard himself is only 21. With his newly shaved head giving him the menacing look of a West Street bouncer and the way he led a totally inexperienced back line to a clean sheet, Ostigard was reminiscent of Danny Cullip – or at least a version of Cullip comfortable with the ball at his feet who did not appear to be shouting “Lets ‘ave a winner” every five minutes.

If Potter is to continue in 2021-22 playing a back three which brought Brighton most of their success in the previous campaign, then a roster of Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, Joel Veltman, Dan Burn and Ostigard offers enough quality and depth to negate the need to replace White.

There are others waiting in the wings, too. Haydon Roberts is an England youth international who spent last season on loan with Rochdale. As Robert Sanchez can attest, Potter has no qualms in throwing players into the Premier League following a year at Spotland.

Jan Paul van Hecke was signed last summer for £1.8 million rom NAC Breda. He returned immediately to the Netherlands, earning decent reviews during a season-long loan with Heerenveen.

And do not write off Shane Duffy. He reminded Potter of his qualities against Rangers when making an excellent goal line clearance after new goalkeeper Kjell Sherpem got in a bit of a mess with the ball at his feet.

The consensus seems to be that Duffy will be moved on as he is not a Potter type player, but stranger things have happened than an unlikely comeback for the Irishman. Just ask Cullip’s old partner Guy Butters who was totally written off, only to return and be crowned Player of the Season in the 2004 playoff winning campaign.

Replacing the reigning Player of the Season in White will not be easy. The England international ticks every box of the modern-day defender and more; he can read the game, he is comfortable in possession, he can step into midfield with the ball at his feet, he even pops up in the opponent’s box to play a part in attacking moves.

Ostigard will not be a like-for-like replacement. Finding one of those would be nigh-on impossible. He does though deserve an opportunity to show what he can do in the Premier League, saving the Albion a potential £15 million which could be better invested in a striker.

After all, why buy a new carving knife when you have one in the cupboard and what you really need is a cheeseboard?