The Partners of Bukayo Saka, Ben White, and Martin Odegaard: The Driving Force Behind Arsenal’s Success in the Premier League Championship Charge, Shattering Stereotypes and Fostering Unity in the Dressing Room

The Partners of Bukayo Saka, Ben White, and Martin Odegaard: The Driving Force Behind Arsenal’s Success in the Premier League Championship Charge, Shattering Stereotypes and Fostering Unity in the Dressing Room

Being the partner of a footballer can spring up certain assumptions. Salacious gossip, a hunger for the public eye and extravagant opulence are some.

Yet, when a video of Martin Odegaard’s girlfriend Helene Spilling celebrating Arsenal’s 5-0 thumping of Chelsea to Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’ in the Emirates stands last week went viral on social media, it was a microcosm of a culture created by Mikel Arteta at Arsenal.

A culture that has brought the families of his players on board his team’s ambitions.

A core of the group meet at matches together and also socialise away from the Emirates. They include Spilling, Tolami Benson, Milly White, Sophie Weber and Laura Trossard Hilven.

These are the significant others of Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Ben White, Kai Havertz and Leandro Trossard respectively.

Defender Ben White ic pictured on a boat alongside wife Millie

Arsenal WAGs have played a crucial role in the team’s superb season and charge for the title

The support from the players' partners sums up the culture Mikel Arteta has instilled at the club: Pictured: WAGs travelling to Munich for the second leg of the Gunners' Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich

The support from the players’ partners sums up the culture Mikel Arteta has instilled at the club: Pictured: WAGs travelling to Munich for the second leg of the Gunners’ Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich 

Arteta has been insistent on bringing families on board to support the team's ambitions

Arteta has been insistent on bringing families on board to support the team’s ambitions 

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Four of the women stayed together at one of their homes to watch Arsenal thrash Sheffield United 6-0 in March. And on matchdays, many of the group can be spotted in the stands cheering on their men, away from seeking the limelight themselves.

This was the case for the Chelsea match, with Spilling taking a picture with Odegaard from pitchside afterwards, and the group were also together for the trip to Bayern Munich for Arsenal’s Champions League quarter-final second leg.

It’s a far cry from the stereotypical WAG image of the noughties, through the likes of Cheryl Cole and Coleen Rooney, in which the activities of the England football team’s partners during the 2006 World Cup often drew as much attention as the football itself.

When Mail Sport asked about this growing group of families socialising together, Arteta said: ‘That’s great to see obviously because it’s needed. We have a lot of foreign players that obviously they have their families, wives, girlfriends around and they need support.

‘They need to build those friendships and those close circles around them. We have created that, big credit to them and how much they have put into that because it’s really helpful for the team so if they are happy, much better because the players are gonna be happy and more settled.

‘It gives you a much bigger sense of belonging somewhere when you really feel that you are part of something.’

Martin Odegaard's girlfriend was seen celebrating Arsenal's win over Chelsea

Helene Spilling was seen dancing around inside the Emirates stadium

Martin Odegaard’s girlfriend Helen Spilling captured the mood around Arsenal players and their families at present as she danced around to celebrate their victory over Chelsea

Sophie Weber (left), girlfriend of Kai Havertz' girlfriend, Tolami Benson (middle), partner of Bukayo Saka,  Ben White's wife Milly (right), Spilling and Leandro Trossard's wife Laura are pictured at the Emirates

Sophie Weber (left), girlfriend of Kai Havertz’ girlfriend, Tolami Benson (middle), partner of Bukayo Saka,  Ben White’s wife Milly (right), Spilling and Leandro Trossard’s wife Laura are pictured at the Emirates  

Martin Odegaard's partner Helen Spilling has been a high profile figure on the sidelines this season

As has Declan Rice's girlfriend Lauren Fryer

Martin Odegaard’s partner Helen Spilling has been a high profile figure on the sidelines this season – as has Declan Rice’s girlfriend Lauren Fryer

WHO ARE THE ARSENAL WAGS? 

TOLAMI BENSON (BUKAYO SAKA’S PARTNER):

Saka has kept details of his relationship with Benson private — they don’t appear on each other’s Instagram accounts — but she has posted pictures in an Arsenal jersey. Benson was at the 2022 World Cup and chatted to Saka after England’s heart-breaking exit. She works in PR.

HELENE SPILLING (MARTIN ODEGAARD’S PARTNER):

Spilling is a Norwegian professional dancer who has participated in Norway’s edition of Dancing with the Stars. She runs her own dance studio in Oslo called The Zone Dance Studio.

MILLY WHITE (BEN WHITE’S WIFE):

The pair got engaged in 2022 after a whirlwind five-month romance, before tying the knot in May last year. White is a model. They have matching ‘I love you’ tattoos on their wrists.

SOPHIE WEBER (KAI HAVERTZ’S PARTNER):

The most high profile of the group, boasting 395,000 followers on Instagram. Influencer and model Weber met Havertz at a young age after growing up in the same neighbourhood.

LAURA TROSSARD HILVEN (LEANDRO TROSSARD’S WIFE):

The couple met back in 2014 and have two sons together, Thiago and Amadeo. They got married in June 2019 in a private wedding ceremony.

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Since taking the reins at Arsenal in December 2019, Arteta has long seen family a crucial piece of the jigsaw to his players performing at their best. As the old adage goes, ‘A happy wife, a happy life’.

A key event which bonded the group of five together was the two-week squad winter trip to Dubai in January. The Gunners headed into the break having been beaten twice in a row in the league, to West Ham and Fulham. Morale was at a low.

For their journey to the Middle East, Arteta invited along the players’ families. The club put on some bonding sessions to integrate them in the belief that doing so would have a wider positive effect.

The Arsenal manager’s decision to invite family members on the trip was initially met by scepticism. Arteta, though, spotted an opportunity.

It was a move that has enhanced the sense of togetherness he has been so keen to nurture.

Saka's gilrfriend, Benson, (right) shared a picture of her at the Emirates with Trossard's wife Laura (left) last week

Trossard's wife shared a picture of her and Weber (right) at the Allianz Arena after the game

This month Saka’s gilrfriend, Benson, (right) shared a picture of her at the Emirates with Trossard’s wife Laura (left), who was also pictured with Trossard’s wife Laura (R)

Arteta's bid for togetherness is benefiting Arsenal after going top of the Premier League

Arteta’s bid for togetherness is benefiting Arsenal after going top of the Premier League

The Gunners are bidding to win their first title since 2004 and the feel-good factor among their families is driving them all the way

The Gunners are bidding to win their first title since 2004 and the feel-good factor among their families is driving them all the way

Since the Dubai trip, and prior to it, the club have gone out their way to ensure none of the families feel isolated by encouraging them to get to know each other.

It’s particularly important for the partners of players who have joined the club within the past year, such as Havertz, or have come from abroad.

He added: ‘We do certain things, we try to bring everybody together to try to at least have the capacity to connect and then obviously a relationship. Whether you like somebody or want to spend time with somebody, that’s something super personal and something completely down to them.’

It is not just about the partners. Children have been accommodated, too, as they can often feel the isolation of having a father in the public eye.

Arteta himself has not been shy about having family around. On Arsenal’s USA pre-season last summer, he involved his teenage son Gabriel in the opening training session in Washington DC.

Arsenal and Arteta will hope this togetherness continues so on the pitch the Gunners continue winning — while the same happens off it, too.

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