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.