Tag Archives: rob holding

Arsenal will have to wait “until January” before selling central defenders

“Arsenal have 8 centre backs, we need to sell” has been written countless times over the summer.

As it stands, Arsenal have not sold a single one, with only Konstantinos Mavropanos leaving on loan to VfB Stuttgart in Germany – and he was not one of the “Magnificent Eight”.

So what is happening at the club with regards to our central defender situation?

Gabriel Magalhães was signed from Lille over the summer and William Saliba returned from his season long loan at Saint-Étienne, whilst David Luiz signed a new contract.

Arsenal also made the loan deal of Pablo Mari permanent.

A few people have questioned why Arsenal signed Pablo Mari, and then later went on to sign Gabriel, which pushed Mari down to 4th choice centre back – a role Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi could all have played.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

When Arsenal signed Mari, Gabriel was not on the radar as a transfer this summer.

Arsenal would have been scouting the Brazilian, but with a move likely next summer – so Arsenal agreed a deal for Mari back in January with Flamengo.

Gabriel then came available and Edu clearly felt the club could not afford to miss out on such a prestigious talent – even if it meant having one defender too many.

And that is how we came to sign both Gabriel and Mari.

Luiz, Gabriel, Saliba and Mari looked set to make up Arsenal’s defensive options with Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi all no longer required but none have yet exited stage left. The question is why?

A loan deal seemed to be agreed taking Holding to Newcastle, but the transfer quickly died and Holding found himself starting the first game of the season against Fulham.

Despite having 7 central defenders, Arsenal did not have a single one on the bench. This highlights why no one has left. They are all injured.

David Luiz picked up a knock prior to the Fulham game, but has now returned, whilst William Saliba was lacking in match sharpness having not played since March. A few games with the U23s might be needed for the Frenchman.

Those two joined Pablo Mari on the sidelines who is still recovering from damaging his ankle ligaments back in June. Mari is back in full training but it will be a couple of weeks before he is fully fit.

Without Luiz and Saliba in the short term, and Mari in the mid-term, Arsenal did the sensible thing and pulled the rug on the transfer of Holding to Newcastle. He was needed in Islington.

Holding still has a role to play at Arsenal albeit as 4th or 5th choice centre back.

If he remains at Arsenal this season, he will be back up to Luiz, Gabriel, Saliba and Mari; with the potential to replace Luiz as 4th choice next summer. It all comes down to whether he wants to be a bit-part player at Arsenal, or play week in week out at someone like Newcastle.

For now Arsenal can not afford to lose Holding.

Keeping Holding means they can afford to lose Sokratis.

Sokratis is another who is currently injured.

The club said he sustained a “mild strain to right calf in training”, with an of returning to full training “within the next week”.

You feel once he has recovered, his deal to Napoli will go through.

That leaves Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi.

The problem Arsenal face with the pair is they are both injured, with neither expected back in full training until October.

By the time they are “match fit” it will probably be November.

Injuries mean that they are not available to play (obviously) but also unlikely to be sold.

This puts Arsenal in a situation where we have 5 centre backs (Luiz, Gabriel, Saliba, Mari & Holding), and have an additional 2 that are not fully fit, who can not be sold.

So whilst selling Sokratis will take us down to 7 central defenders, only 3 are fit for selection for West Ham and 2 are not going to be full fit for at least another 6 weeks.

This will result in Arsenal not selling Chambers and Mustafi, and potentially not even registering the later.

Arsenal will then look to loan (or sell) the pair in January.

Mustafi, whose contract expires at the end of the season, could end up making a similar move to Cedric Soares.

A team might decide to pick him up on loan for 5 months, with the pre-contract agreement already in place to make the move permanent in June. A move like that would suit Arsenal, Mustafi and the club loaning him.

Likewise, we might see Chambers move out on loan in January, with an option to buy at the end of the season.

A similar deal could be done for Rob Holding if Pablo Mari has returned to full fitness, with Arsenal then having the option of Chambers, Holding or Mavropanos to return from loan and replace Luiz in 2021.

It might feel like Arsenal have a lot of centre backs at the club right now, but the reality is somewhat different.

Holding will stay, Sokratis will be sold, and not much else can realistically happen until January.

Keenos

Best and worst case scenarios of loaning Rob Holding

Best Case

Rob Holding remains injury free the entire season, playing almost every game and is one of Newcastle’s top performers.

He blossoms into the player many Arsenal fans hoped, and is considered amongst the best defenders in England, gaining a spot in the England squad for 2020/21.

Holding returns to Arsenal to take his place in the first team.

Middle Case

Rob Holding remains injury free the entire season, playing almost every game and performs well for Newcastle.

He forms a good partnership with Jamaal Lascelles but does not consistently perform to a higher level.

At the end of the season he has a choice between being a squad player at Arsenal, or joining Newcastle permanently to play week in week out.

Arsenal would receive £25m+ for the proven, but not top draw, centre back.

Worst Case

Rob Holding continues to struggle with injury, and when he does play it a fairly average performer for Newcastle.

In and out of the team, he is outperformed by Jamaal Lascelles. Newcastle do not see him as a regular first choice so move on to other targets.

Holding them returns to Arsenal where he has proved himself to be adequate enough to be 4th choice, but no more.

The alternative option is Arsenal sell Holding to a promotion chasing Championship team for around £10m

Current Case

With Gabriel and William Saliba joining the club, Rob Holding has found himself as 5th choice centre back. David Luiz and Pablo Mari also ahead of him.

Holding is yet to start 10 Premier League games in a single season and is now 25-years-old, having also come off a bad injury in the last 24 months.

There are plenty of sides interested, but due to question marks about his lack of consistent performances over the last 4 years, none really want to invest big.

Interested sides would likely buy Holding and another similar central defender, splitting their funds and risk between the two.

With COVID19, the most Arsenal could expect this summer would be £10m.

Keenos

Emery should resist temptation to play returning pair against Man U

On Monday Arsenal face Manchester United away. It is a game that would solidify Arsenal’s top 3 intentions if they win; or plunge us back into depression if we lose.

Following their good performance against Nottingham Forest, there have been plenty of calls from fans to put Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney into the starting XI for the key game against Man U. Emery should not bow down to the pressure.

Tuesday’s 5-0 victory over Nottingham Forest was Rob Holding’s 1st senior game since December 2018.

Holding suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on during a 2–2 draw against Manchester United nearly a year ago.

Likewise Tierney has spent 4 months out following a hernia injury, which subsequently required surgery for.

Both players are top young talents and will be mainstays in the Arsenal first team, so it is important that Emery looks at the bigger picture.

All being well, this season Arsenal will play around 50 games. There is a lot of football to come.

To cope with the work load, Emery needs to rotate his squad and ensure players do not pick up long the term injuries that hampered the clubs top 4 and Europa league challenge last season. It is also important that he manages the work load of returning players so that they immediately break down once more.

Both Holding and Tierney performed brilliantly against Nottingham Forest, but a Premier League game against Manchester United would be a huge step up; and one which might be a step up too soon.

What makes more sense is to leave both with the “mid-week squad” in the short term.

Next Thursday we play Standard Liege at home. It would make more sense to play Holding and Tierney in that game, continuing their rehabilitation at a lower level, than put them into a big game at Old Trafford.

It might be seen as some as a bit of a risk not to play both against Man U, but looking at the bigger picture it makes a lot of sense.

Following the game against Liege, Arsenal face Bournemouth. Once again Emery should not be tempted to put Tierney and Holding in.

After Bournemouth, we have an international break, with our 1st game back against Sheffield United on Monday 21st October. That is nearly a month away.

This should be the game that Holding and Tierney are slated in for a Premier League return.

The Sheffield United fixture is over 3 weeks away. By that point both players would have had a months full team training under their belt, as well as 2 senior games. They will be ready for Premier League football.

Putting them in against Manchester United would be short sighted. It would be playing the strongest XI at the risk of one of the 2 suffering another injury – which is likely for players returning from long term problems.

Not playing the pair against Man U means that come Sheffield United, both (and Hector Bellerin) are fit and strong and ready to go for the rest of the season. A sacrifice in the short term to see the benefit in the long term.

I am excited to see Holding, Bellerin and Tierney play together. They will be 3 of the back 4 for at least the next 5 years. But to ensure we get the best out of them for the next decade, it is important that we keep their recoveries from long term injuries slow and do not rush them back.

Keenos