Arsenal’s Ben White doesn’t want to play for England right now, Gareth Southgate reveals

Arsenal defender Ben White has told Gareth Southgate he does not want to be considered for England at the present time, the manager has revealed.

Southgate announced a 25-man squad for upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Belgium on Thursday, and White was omitted despite the series of injuries to fellow English right-backs Kieran Trippier, Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

White has not played for England since leaving their World Cup camp in Qatar in mysterious circumstances citing personal issues. Media reports at the time suggested he had clashed with assistant manager Steve Holland during training, but Southgate moved to quash those stories as he opened up on the situation.

“Clearly on form I can’t sit here and say he doesn’t deserve to be in,” Southgate explained.

“We had a call from Edu (Arsenal sporting director) last week (and he) said Ben didn’t want to be considered for England squads at this time. For me that is a great shame. He is a player we took to the Euros, a player we took to the World Cup and I spoke to him post-Qatar because I wanted to pick him.

Ben White left the England camp at the Qatar World Cup (Getty Images)
Ben White left the England camp at the Qatar World Cup (Getty Images)

“He is not available to us and there is no issue between us at all and I also should say there is never any issue with (coach) Steve Holland because that has been mentioned in articles and I don’t like that. I want that door wide open. He would be in this squad but he’s not available to us and I have to focus on who can help us.”

White has just signed a new contract at Arsenal and the defender admitted it is “unbelievable” to have found his home at the Emirates Stadium. The 26-year-old has agreed a new four-year deal, with the option for a further 12 months in north London.

White has been a vital part of Mikel Arteta’s side as they sit top of the Premier League and prepare for a first Champions League quarter-final appearance in 14 years. He featured in every Premier League game last season as Arsenal were pipped at the post by treble-winners Manchester City but has further impressed in his role at right-back this campaign.

Having come through the ranks at Brighton, White spent three seasons out on loan – with Newport, Peterborough and Leeds, respectively, as he gradually made his way up the leagues. He then spent a solitary season in the Brighton first-team before impressing Arsenal enough that the Gunners forked out ££50m to sign him in the summer of 2021.

Ben White has not played for England since 2022 (PA Wire)
Ben White has not played for England since 2022 (PA Wire)

Asked if Arsenal now feels like home, White replied: “I have been on loan three times, I have been places for a year. I think this is the first time I’ve actually settled and known I am not going anywhere in the summer. Being here is unbelievable and I’d love to stay (for more years).”

White has earned four senior England caps since his move to Arsenal, but has not been part of Southgate’s plans since that early departure from the 2022 World Cup. At club level, though, he is the latest in a growing list of Arteta’s key men to commit their futures to the Spaniard’s project.

He follows in the footsteps of Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard, who extended their deals last year, while Gabriel Magalhaes, Gabriel Martinelli, Reiss Nelson and William Saliba have also signed new contracts in the past 18 months.

“I think when those sort of players are getting signed (to new deals), it shows there is a real ambition about the club and it is something I am loving being a part of,” White added. “I think if you do look at their ages, it’s going to get better. Day to day it is shown how important this club is and how important it is to do the little things right and get the results that we need.”

Arteta told the club’s official website: “It’s great news that Ben is committing his future to the club. Ben is a key player for us, a top professional with a winning mentality, and one of the guys who leads by example every day. Ben’s ability, determination and positive attitude are so important, but he is also a great character and human being.

“We all look forward to continue working with Ben in the coming years.”

Additional reporting by PA