Tag Archives: rob holding

Hard-working, Humble, Home-grown Holding earns new contract

Rob Holding, you know…

Fair play to Rob Holding. Last summer he looked out the door. Set to join Newcastle on loan due to Arsenal having 8 central defenders. The deal fell through at the last minute due to injuries and Holding has gone from strength to strength since.

Holding may not be a superstar. Is certainly not world class. But he is solid. A solid play, a solid character. He is the type of person you need in a squad.

2020/21 is his 5th season at The Arsenal, and in that time he has played just 53 Premier League matches.

His time at the club has been disrupted by injury and whilst his mentality has never been in question, his ability has been.

Had Holding departed Arsenal in the summer, he would have left with his head held high, having been an outstanding performer in 2 FA Cup Final victories over Chelsea.

Holding is a solid mid-table Premier League centre back. He would start week in week out for most sides in the top 6. He is the level of Michael Keane, James Tarkowski, Conor Coady.

He is a basic player, lacks a bit of pace, but does not over complicate things.

Win ball, pass ball.

And that is what you need sometimes in a squad player. Someone that does not try to play above their level. Someone that puts in a solid performance, does not try and be a superstar, and does not make mistakes.

And Holding will very much become a squad player at Arsenal.

Whilst we have a lot of central defenders on our books, that will change between now and the summer.

Sokratis will leave within the next few days, whilst Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz will leave in the summer.

That will leave Arsenal with Gabriel, Pablo Mari, Rob Holding, William Saliba and Calum Chambers.

Gabriel and Pablo Mari look like solid options on the left hand side of defence, whilst Rob Holding is the only realistic option on the right hand side.

Chambers has suffered yet another injury and his time with Arsenal must be coming to an end – he has not reached the levels Holding has.

Whilst there are question marks over whether William Saliba will be ready.

What Arsenal need to do in the summer is recruit a right sided central defender who is the level of Mari of Gabriel. Rob Holding is then reliable back up to that purchase.

The hope would have been Saliba would have been that man, but it is obvious Mikel Arteta does not feel he is ready.

I would not be surprised if Saliba goes out on loan to a Premier League team, someone like West Ham, for the whole of next season.

Saliba is still just 19-years-old and has plenty of time on his hand. There is no need to write him off, likewise we should not expect him to walk straight into the first team.

Arteta clearly wants people of a certain character at the club. Holding ticks those boxes.

Hard working, humble, home-grown.

Fair play to Holding for getting his head down, improving, staying fit and earning his new contract.


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.


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.