Arsenal: Ex-Spurs star’s surprise theory behind ‘strange’ Ben White England row

Oliver Harden
Ben White with the Arsenal badge and a cracked England badge alongside him
Ben White has turned down the chance to play for England.

Former Spurs midfielder Jermaine Jenas feels Ben White’s “strange” reluctance to play for England could be helping his form for Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Despite emerging as an influential player for Arsenal since arriving from Brighton in the summer of 2021, White has not featured in Gareth Southgate’s plans since leaving the England squad during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Although “personal reasons” were cited as the reason for White’s sudden departure, persistent rumours since the tournament have suggested the decision was taken after the Arsenal defender had an argument with Southgate’s assistant Steve Holland.

READ MORE: Eight players who rejected England before Benjamin White – and why they turned national team down

When asked about White’s omission from his squad for the upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Belgium, Southgate revealed White has requested to not be considered for England duty, claiming the 26-year-old has shown a “clear reticence” about being called up since Qatar 2022.

Southgate went on to deny rumours of a rift between White and Holland, calling White’s decision ”a great shame.”

White’s move has been heavily criticised by a number of high-profile figures, with the likes of former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp calling his England snub “disgusting” and an insult to the great players of England’s past including Bobby Moore, Peter Shilton, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney.

Speaking to the Mail, however, Jenas – who won 21 England caps between 2003 and 2009 – reckons White believes his club form has benefited directly from his lack of international commitments.

He said:  “It is strange.

“Not everybody’s patriotic and I think we have to accept that.

“I think Ben has his own reasons why he feels it’s best for him to not be selected for England. For all we know, him not being selected with England has such a positive impact on his club career and he wants to focus on that.

“Not everybody’s the same in football. We like to kind of pigeonhole players like: ‘You’ve got to fight for your country.’

“It might be a footballing reason. It might be like: ‘What’s the point in me going if I’m not going to play?'”

White’s omission opened the door for Jarrad Branthwaite to receive his first England call up, with the Everton defender describing it as “a dream come true” to join up with the squad.

Jenas has praised Southgate’s handling of the situation and is hopeful that White does not suffer for his decision to focus purely on his club prospects.

He explained: “It creates an opportunity for somebody else.

“Braithwaite’s come into the fold. He’s had a good season at Everton in a tough situation. He’s got the opportunity and I think that’s the way to look at it.

“I think Ben White’s having one of his best years as a footballer. I understand why Gareth did what he did because he needed give reasoning as to why he’s not picked him, because it’s quite obvious that he’s been brilliant lately.

“I hope that there’s no negative fallback for Ben because he’s been brilliant for Arsenal and I think he’s got to decide what’s best for his career, nobody else.”

READ MORE: Arsenal: Ben White told to ‘sod off’ over England snub as pundit delivers ‘sunbed’ jibe