By Sir Hardly Anyone
“Ben White to Arsenal transfer claims dashed as well-placed source reveals cold, hard truth”
That uncomfortable headline came from Team Talk. And it was uncomfortable because a lot of “sources” have been telling us the opposite. As with the report from Team Talk (yep the very same) that White was already house-hunting in leafy Hertfordshire.
Elsewhere there are tales that the difference between Arsenal and Brighton & Hove is just about whether the money is in part for achieving targets or “add ons”. The Athletic and Sky Sprouts are going with that line.
But then again The Evening Argus, the local Brighton paper, is dubious, saying, “a well-placed source” has told them that such reports are “simply not true”. The point is made in their article that there is no need to sell to Arsenal now. They aren’t desperate for cash, and others will probably come in and offer more.
Now that thought comes from the fact that for months the media has been saying that Arsenal don’t have much of a budget and have to sell in order to finance deals. That was overthrown briefly by the claim that the owner was about to put a quarter of a billion pounds into the club’s transfer fund, but that story too has now gone quiet.
This is not to say that the quarter of a billion tale is untrue but rather that it is more convenient for the media to ignore that one, and focus on Arsenal taking their time, not offering the full amount and so on. Then if the player goes elsewhere the media has another story: Arsenal too slow, owners too mean.
And there is a problem with this transfer. Ben White has only had one season in the Premier League – the one that has just finished. His other experience has been 42 games in League Two, 15 games in League One and 46 games in the Championship. So yes he may be very good indeed, but at Premier League level it is all down to that one season with Brighton.
Now it is true that the Brighton defence was good last season – they conceded 46 goals. Fewer than West Ham, Everton and Leicester in fact, but even so, try this for size….
Supposing you were running the transfers at Arsenal, and you wanted a right back to replace Hector Bellerin who has said he wants to return to Spain. Surely it would be much more intelligent to find a player you want, and to offer the club concerned an extra £500,000 providing no story about the transfer leaks out anywhere until three days before the actual signing.
That way, Arsenal could conduct negotiations quietly and calmly and the selling club gets a bonus. Everyone is happy. After all, there are far fewer scouts watching matches these days because everything is available on video, (which is why Arsenal got rid of most of their scouts last year).
And if you were going for a player and wanted to keep that quiet, what better cover than to let out through “sources close to the club” the fake tale that Arsenal are trying for Ben White? Or indeed someone else?
So what supports the Non-White theory?
Certainly the main point that in recent seasons when we have run the list of the 120 or so players rumoured to be coming to Arsenal, the actual transfers that have happened have only appeared in the media a few days before the transfer is announced.
And second, the fact that it is so clearly beneficial to both clubs that transfers should be kept quiet until both sides are ready to sign off. There is after all, always the chance that the deal doesn’t get done, in which case all the rumours have achieved is to unsettle a player who is already at the club.
Plus what, for example, is Chambers thinking? He’s come back into the team and been happy to play when Bellerin isn’t there. And what of Bellerin himself? Much has been made of him wanting to go back to Spain – but we’ve no idea if that is true. If he doesn’t want to go, or if he hasn’t found a club yet, he’s going to be very unsettled.
In short, there is no benefit to Arsenal for transfer news to leak out while matters are still at the preliminary stage, but every benefit for both parties to keep the story quiet.
Also we know that sports journalists don’t do research, but just print whatever tittle-tattle drops in their inbox. And we are getting on for 90 players rumoured to be coming to Arsenal and its only 25 June.
Of course it is possible that White is coming to Arsenal, but if so, Arsenal have handled the situation badly. But the biggest chance is that he is not coming.
Which will mean that the journalists will be happy because they can run another Arsenal cock-up story which can be once again written without any research or knowledge.
The only sadness is that so many people see to believe the gibberish. I mean, 90 players tipped to be coming to Arsenal and its only 25 June? If you want something insane, that surely is it.
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