Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Ben White makes the England squad : Mudryk linked again

Good morning everyone, hope you’ve had a great week so far.

A quick Friday round-up for you, and we’ll start with the news that Ben White has been included in the England squad for the World Cup later this month. That it was even a question for so long is quite funny really, given that he’s been so good this season, and England aren’t exactly blessed with great defenders at this moment in time.

Even though he’s been playing at right back for Arsenal, he’s an accomplished defender, and could easily replicate that form more centrally – as he did last season for us. Gareth Southgate does seem wedded to Harry Maguire as ‘one of our best defenders’, news that will have England’s opponents in the tournament licking their lips, so it remains to be seen how much White will play.

Given that he famously spoke about not watching football, I suspect he’ll push hard for inclusion in the team because it’s a long way to go to sit and do something he wouldn’t even do on his own sofa. Southgate was asked if he’d spoken to the 24 year old to let him know, and replied:

“No. The only people I’ve spoken to are the ones I’ve mentioned [left out]. I hope he’s very excited about being involved.”

My first thought was ‘You don’t know Ben White at all, do you?!’. Still, it’s more than just reward for his form this season, and you never know what might happen during the tournament in terms of playing time. England have a relatively kind group, and Ben joins Aaron Ramsdale and Bukayo Saka as part of the squad.

Elsewhere, William Saliba has been selected for France, a not-unexpected turn of events given how well he’s done for us this season. Granit Xhaka captains Switzerland, Matt Turner is in for the USA, and across the board there’s a fair amount of Arsenal representation at the tournament that corrupt FIFA fraudulently awarded to Qatar after fraudulently awarding the previous one to Putin’s Russia.

Elsewhere, there’s a lot of transfer chatter beginning to build already, even though the January window doesn’t open for another 6 or 7 weeks. Reports that we’ve made a £50m+ bid for Mykhaylo Mudryk are good for those that thrive on the clicks that kind of reporting brings, but I suspect they’re, for now anyway, premature.

I think there’s genuine interest in the player, who is exciting and very, very fast, but considering Brentford were in talks over him during the summer and the fee was in the region of £20m, it’s hard to square that kind of price jump. To be fair, he has played well this season, both domestically and in the Champions League, but I’m just a bit wary of that kind of a fee and such definitive reporting at this point.

No doubt there will be plenty of January-based discussion to get us over the Arsenal-free period during the World Cup, and Arsenal fans will be keen to see the club augment the squad to maintain our performance levels in what’s going to be a packed second half of the season. There’s still so much football to play, and when the knock-out stages of the Europa League get serious, we’re going to see many more of the ‘first team’ players involved. I think that’s partly why Mikel Arteta has been banging the drum about these guys being ready to play every three or four days. They will be needed.

That doesn’t mean we can’t take some of the burden off them by adding more first team ready players to the squad during the January window. We’ve come through the early months of the season very well, but it’s also clear there are certain areas that require additions to maintain our competitiveness across two, and perhaps three, fronts (if we go on an FA Cup run).

Lots more on that to come. Right, I’ll leave it there for now. There’s a brand new Arsecast for you below, chatting to Andrew Allen about the Carabao Cup game on Wednesday, and Amy Lawrence about lots of other stuff – including January. Happy listening.


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