Arsenal face strong late competition from Everton in their attempts to secure the signing of Brighton and England centre-back Ben White, with the ambitious Toffees seemingly keen to back new manager Rafa Benitez in the transfer market ahead of the new season.
The Gunners had been getting closer to reaching an agreement with Brighton over the prospective transfer, but now a fast-moving Everton have a chance of beating them to it.
Brighton rejected an opening bid of £40m from Arsenal earlier this month and the Daily Mail writes that a second bid worth £42m plus £6m in add-ons has also been turned down. The Seagulls are sticking to their £50m valuation and the report explains that Everton have held talks this week.
It is said that while Everton are yet to submit a bid, they have indicated to Brighton that they would be prepared to make a better offer than those Arsenal have presented so far.
The Toffees would offer a guaranteed £50m, split into a £20m fee up front, followed by the remaining £30m paid in instalments over fours year of White’s proposed contract.
White himself is said to have been ‘particularly keen’ on joining Arsenal but has been impressed by the speed at which Everton have moved and is not against heading to Goodison Park instead.
A centre-back is a key part of Arsenal’s summer plans for a squad rebuild. With a number of players expected to leave, the Gunners have been given permission by the Kroenke family to spend up to £250m this summer targeting several key positions.
Centre-back, right-back, goalkeeper and two central midfielders are the priority positions, but the owners specifically want new signings to be younger than 25 and have the potential to both improve as players long-term and increase in value.
White fitted that profile but Arsenal will have to up their game to beat Everton to the deal.