Rob Holding departure a “good deal for all parties”

I love Rob Holding.

In the modern era of footballers, he is a bit of a throw back.

A no nonsense defender not concerned with how he looks or chasing fame and celebrity. He turns up, does his job and goes home.

has not been groomed for stardom from a young age. Just a working class normal lad who happens to be good at football.

It is so hard to connect with most footballers these days but Holding was one that was easy to like. If felt like he was me or you. Just better at football.

Holding is an underrated player who was integral to us winning the FA Cup in 2016/17 and 2019/20. I do not think his efforts in both of those victories should be underestimated. He does not have a couple of medals in his cabinet due to being someone who sat on the bench and never contributed. He deserves those medals.

So despite my love in with the balding Holding, I would also not be too upset to see him leave.

For everything to like about Holding, he does not quite have it to be a top 4 footballer. And that is what Arsenal need right now.

His lack of pace sees him getting caught out when going wide to cover Hector Bellerin, and often means Arsenal have to sit deeper than Mikel Arteta perhaps wants to.

Holding is capable of some immense performances, but he is also liable to many lapses of judgement throughout the season.

Playing for a mid-table team, his immense performances will be more important than his lapses of judgement. But if you are chasing Champions League football, you need defenders who make very few mistakes.

Arsenal have spent £50million on Ben White this summer.

White is quicker than Holding, better positionally and a superior passer. Everything that Arteta wants.

There is a reason why White and not Holding went to the Euro’s this summer.

Holding is the level below White. He would play second fiddle to his fellow Englishman.

Holding has a desire to make the England squad for a major international tournament.

In a recent interview he said:

“When the squads were being announced, I had my eye on it. You never know, so I was looking. It didn’t happen for me this time but that’s not going to deter me or make me feel it’s never going to.”

This summers tournament would have been Holding’s best chance of making an England squad.

With 30 Premier League appearances to his name in 2020/21, 28 starts, he will unlikely never play more football for Arsenal than he did last season.

Playing second fiddle to White will see his game time dramatically reduced and almost guarantee he does not make England’s next World Cup squad.

He would have seen the likes of Conor Coady, White and Tyrone Mings make Gareth Southgate’s squad despite playing for lesser clubs.

Holding will know his best chance of going to Qatar would be to move away from Arsenal and play every league game for the next 18 months .

At 25-years-old, a move away for Arsenal is the only way he will get week in, week out football.

The move would also suit Arsenal.

We currently have too many players; and whilst we have got rid of David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis from last season, we still have one too many defenders.

With no European football, we do not need to carry 5 centre backs and 3 right backs. One must go.

The options to leave would be either Cedric Soares, Calum Chambers or Holding.

If Cedric leaves, Chambers then becomes 2nd choice right back to Hector Bellerin (or his replacement). If Holding leaves, Chambers becomes 4th choice centre back as cover for Ben White. If it is Chambers who goes, Cedric and Holding maintain their positions.

But you can only sell players if there is a buyer.

There will not be too many clubs in for Cedric – who turns 30 at the end of this month. So that gives you a choice between keeping Chambers or Holding.

Taking into account everything that has been said so far, Chambers might be the better option as understudy for White.

Chambers is closer in style of football to White.

He is a good passer of the ball and quicker than Holding.

That means if White is injured, Chambers would probably be the better man to bring in. Playing Chambers would mean we would not have to change our defensive tactics. We would not need the team to drop 10 yards deeper to cover Holding’s lack of pace.

Chambers is a more like for like replacement for White than Holding is.

He is also more versatile – capable of covering right back in an emergency and he could also play a role as 5th choice central midfielder.

When it comes to reducing our centre backs, we also have to look forward 12 months to when William Saliba returns.

If Saliba has a good season in France and continues to develop his game, he will be back in the Arsenal squad next season.

That will leave Arsenal with 6 centre backs once more.

It makes a lot of sense for Arsenal to shed one centre back this summer and then another next – especially as we do not have European football.

Next summer we sell which of Holding or Chambers is still at the club; or Saliba depending on the development of latter.

So if we get an offer for Holding (or Chambers) in the region of £20million this summer, we would be crazy to turn it down as their value will only likely diminish next summer with a year less playing.

The two obvious clubs that could target Holding are Newcastle and Leicester City.

Both sides play with deep defences so Holding would suit their style of play.

Leicester will be in the market for a new centre back following Wesley Fofana’s sickening pre-season injury.

Holding would be an easy deal for them to get done – and Arsenal could potentially use him as part of a deal for James Maddison.

Newcastle are the ones he has been most heavily linked with overnight.

It is actually funny looking at Newcastle Twitter who are slating the deal. Holding would become their best centre back.

Many are saying “if he is not good enough for Arsenal he is not good enough for Newcastle”. This the same fan base who are celebrating signing Joe Willock like it is Lionel Messi.

It is perhaps a level of delusion that Newcastle fans have always had.

They finished 12th last season. And 13th the two previous seasons. They are a relegation battling side, not a European chasing.

We have also seen it with Aston Villa. Them thinking that they are “on par” with Arsenal. Ignoring that our 8th place finish is seen as a failure for us. It would be a huge success for them.

A mid-table side – the likes of Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Leeds United – is exactly the level Holding should be playing at.

Teams like Newcastle should be targeting top sides fringe players.

Not being at the level Arsenal require moving forward does not mean he is not the level that would improve Newcastle.

Like Willock, I would wish Holding all the luck if he moves on.

Rob Holding leaving will be good for the player who has England ambitions, good for Arsenal who would add £20million or so into the coffers and good for whoever he joins who would be getting a solid Premier League centre back. A good deal for all parties.

Have a good Tuesday.



15 thoughts on “Rob Holding departure a “good deal for all parties”

  1. richieloco

    You love it Keenos. I largely agree with you… but you know we would be letting him go cheaply for like £10m-12m. We are shockingly bad at getting value from our sales.


    1. carl shadbolt

      How can you agree with the article ? Holding is our best defender by far ! He was last season and before his injury probably the best in the league.Wins tackles holds the line together calls it etc wins headers for fun what more can you ask for ? 3rd best defence in the league last season 3rd fewest goals conceded.but we were down the bottom when it came to goals scored. We lost our season on goals scored that i s a fact !! Laca is woeful fact 65 goals in 170 games says it all ! and 17 in all comps last season 17 seriously that is shocking.He has never been good enough for Arsenal and never will be.Yes he holds the ball up but what does he do with it nothing is the answer !! fewest assists for a striker in the league says it all !! Auba can be forgiven a death in the family last year plus malaria took it out of him !! HOLDING IN LACA OUT . another thing why cannot people go check the stats and facts before speaking


    2. Dammy

      Usually agree with you Keenos, but not on this one mate. Holding is a good, solid, no-nonsense, throwback of a CB, but with positional awareness and lack of pace shortcomings. He has been fortunate to have been guided in the past by the likes of Mertesacker & Luiz and at 26 next month, you could argue he has just entered his prime. he shouldn’t need more on pitch guidance but he clearly does. He was caught in no mans land for Chelsea’s first goal in the Mind Series and I think the communication with Mari wasn’t there. The above in a small part explains why Arteta/Edu have gone in for a younger Ben White.

      Nonetheless, from an Arsenal perspective, he is the better backup to White. He has the experience in that position and will do a solid job guaranteed in the cups and when White needs a rest or (heaven forbid) has an injury. Chambers has played in the RCB position and has never been convincing there for Arsenal. He is versatile and can provide cover, but like his trials at DM, the jack of all trades, master of none mantra comes to mind. He is however a solid and reliable RB. Like with Holding, at RCB, you know what you are getting from Chambers at RB. You are not getting pace, you’re getting balance. While one full back is up the pitch, you know the other will time his run to ensure the backline isn’t exposed. He has a wicked cross and an eye for goal, and he is not bad with his feet either.

      There is a reason Holding got a contract extension and Chambers, who has a year left on his, hasn’t had his contract sorted. I expect it will get sorted after the transfer window closes. If Bellerin goes, and no replacement comes in – It will be Chambers and Cedic battling for the starting position and I like that battle because they will push each other. Cedric signed a 4 year deal last summer for over £100k a week. He is not going anywhere where he’ll be paid less and Arsenal will want a fee closer to £10m to sell. He is going nowhere.

      The way I see it, we have 4 CB’s and 3 RB’s with one expected to leave for Inter Milan when they cash that Lukaku cheque. We should only worry about Saliba when he returns, not before. Hopefully, he has a fantastic season, and he is back to push White to start. His recent remarks however about going against Arteta/Edu’s wishes to play on loan in England leave a lot to be desired. He will have 2 years left on his contract at the end of that loan, and if I had to guess, I would say he wouldn’t sign an extension. He will probably be sold next summer to avoid him being sold on the cheap or running down his contract.

      Newcastle should dream on…


  2. Family Enclosure Man

    I fell in love with Rob Holding the moment he looked Diego Costa in the eye in the 2017 Cup Final, grinned at him and clearly mouthed ‘I’m in your head, aren’t I?’ A snip at £2m from Bolton. And how many modern footballers play with a smile on the faces, like Holding? Wherever he goes – if he goes – I genuinely wish him all the best (unless it’s against Arsenal, of course).


    1. carl shadbolt

      i agree totally with your comments !! Holding is a class act out best defender last season and before his injury probably the best int he league fact !! why cant people of the site see this what do they watch during the game because it is clearly not the game itself. Laca and auda cost us our season last year Abua can be forgiven as he had a funeral in the family and Malaria ! Laca on the other hand, just clearly woeful 16 goals in all comps wow that is disgraceful for an arsenal striker.65 goals in 170 games tells you all you need to know !! Laca out not holding !!


  3. Fred

    Bellerin’s time at the Arsenal is up already, move on Cedric too. Keep Chambers and Holding as backup right and centre backs, then bring in a new right.


    1. carl shadbolt

      Holding as back up really ??? Holding is the first name on the team sheet bar Saka. Arteta wants to play 3 at the back for most games and that is Holding White Gabriel.


  4. Simba

    Holding is massively underrated. Every player has mistakes now and then and to say Holding is error prone is very wrong. Arguably he was our best CB last year. The jury is still out on White. He has played only a couple of friendly games we can’t say anything yet. Holding is looked down upon because of his price tag. White still need to prove that he is better than Holding, Mari and Gabriel in competitive games.

    We will miss him when he goes.


    1. carl shadbolt

      Totally agree, i for life of me cannot see why this article has come about ! He like you said was a best defender last season and before his injury probably the best defender in the league ! Wins tackles holds the line wins headers for fun. We had the 3rd fewest goals conceded last season but we were down the bottom of the table for goals scored ! that for me says it all ! you cannot win games without scoring that is a fact !! Laca and Auba cost us our season last year fact !! laca 17 goals in all competitions ? that is shocking ! 65 goals in 170 games that is woeful return !! Abua can be given some slack funeral with the family and malaria took their toll !!
      Laca out not holding !!


  5. carl shadbolt

    I totally disagree and cannot for the life of me understand this article !! Holding is and was our best defender last season and before his injury was the best in the league !! How can anyone say he needs to go. That comment clearly shows they know nothing about football ! 3rd best defense in the league last year 3rd fewest goals conceded ! does that not tell you something? Arsenal are lucky to have Holding he is immense reads the game well controls the line well and wins headers for fun. Getting rid of holding would be a massive mistake. What do you people watch during a game obviously not the game! We lost games through not scoring goals simple as that. No goals means no wins. Goals win games its a fact !! Laca is useless Abua was shocking both woeful both should go they both killed our season last year !! Laca 65 goals in 170 games should tell you alone where the problem is not in defence.Laca was never the striker we needed he just is not and has not ever been good enough !! Abua we can give him some slack ie as he is playing out left and not in the middle were he should be and allow malaria. £rd fewest goals conceded last season and fewest goals scored for seasons tells you all you need to know !! unless you know nothing about football of course !! then you will blame whatever you like without any facts just because you want to !! HOLDING IS OUR BEST DEFENDER AND THAT IS A FACT !!


  6. Johannes

    I don’t want Rob Holding to go. You can’t have 4-5 world best central defenders in your team and if Holding accepts second choice central defender role then he would still be a good addition to the team. What people also forgets that teams need to have home grown players in their teams.

    He is not the fastest central defender, but not the slowest either. He was adventuring a bit too far on the pitch in pre-season friendly matches, but I think he wouldn’t do that in real matches.


  7. Joel

    No good thinking club should consider selling a fit Holding, first Holding is better than White in Aerial challenges, Holding is a leader, he organises the defence so well at such a young, probably one reason we conceded fewer goal last season than the rest of the seasons he wasn’t fit.
    Holding can play both left and right, which means He could even partner the supposedly superior Ben white, considering all our left footed center halves are somehow injury Prone.

    All in all, i believe Holding is a better team player.


  8. Havyn

    Is Holding not better than Mari? Why do we sell Holding and keep Mari who is worse than Holding?

    Why did Arteta buy Cedric when he was only a reserve player at Southamptom and at age 29 given 4 yrs contract? Kia Joorabchan influence of course since he is also Edu’s agent


  9. blackswancricket

    I like Holding but we have too many defenders now – it’s the one good thing Arteta has done. He has stiffened the back line to the extent we can let a good player go for the right offer.

    I do struggle to understand how Willock can go for just £22m ish in today’s market but we can get £20m for Holding. This also from the same club that pleads poverty in the Willock chase but can find another £20m for Holding? Unless of course it was always a double deal and the delay is sorting out personal terms. Leicester is an interesting one, they need a centre back and are admirers of AMN – so why not both in return for Maddison plus a little cash?


  10. Ricky

    5 or 6 central defenders are necessary in any campaign, European football or not. Rather sell Bellerin and Kokisinac than any combination of Holding, Soares, and Chambers. Also, rather sell Elneny and keep Willock. Arsenal make too many stupid transfer decisions. And, going back to Wenger times, Arsenal sells their assets too cheaply. RVP for 25m; Fabregas, Hleb, Vermealen, Song, and Henri to Barcelona for about 15m each; Martinez to Villa for 20m; now Willick to Newcastle for 20m.



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