Fantastic performances in the Premier League forced Arsenal to reward Rob Holding with a new contract. The Englishman has extended his deal until the summer of 2024 with an option for another year as well.
Securing Holding’s future shows that Arsenal have learnt from their mistakes. We have made a mess of multiple players’ contracts over the years, and it is good to see that we haven’t done the same with the former Bolton man.
Things, however, could have been very different. Holding was very close to a loan move to Newcastle United in the summer. He claims that everything was agreed between the clubs for him to leave, but Mikel Arteta pulled the plug on the final day as ‘it made no sense’.
Holding told The Telegraph: “We signed two centre-halves over the summer and I was thinking, ‘am I even going to be involved in this? At 25, I have to focus on playing. I spoke to the manager and said there was a loan opportunity that had come up, that I needed football.”
“It was all agreed, and the club thought it would be the best move for me. But in the week before the Community Shield against Liverpool, the boss pulled me aside and said he wanted to check that I was focused for the weekend because I was needed.”
“I told him that, wherever I am, I will always play my hardest and put 100 per cent in. I played the game, we did well and we won. And then on the Monday, he called me into his office. He said it made no sense to let me go if my end goal was to play here. He was saying I was going to play, that it was my shirt to lose.”
“That was the confidence he put in me. I had a chance then to prove myself, to say to myself: ‘right, if I am going to stay, I am going to play and I am going to try to be the best player.”
Holding has repaid Arteta’s faith
It did look like Holding had fallen down the pecking order. David Luiz and Gabriel Magalhaes were the first choice, while Shkodran Mustafi looked brilliant under Arteta last season before he got injured.
It was natural that Holding wanted to consider his options, but Arteta was right to block the move. The Englishman has been fantastic for us, especially in our last three Premier League games.
His partnership with Pablo Mari at the back is proving to be a brilliant one. The duo have conceded just once in our last three games and that was a penalty against Chelsea.
Arteta now has a huge selection headache but this is one he’d rather have. The Arsenal boss will likely be forced to keep Gabriel Magalhaes on the bench, while the likes of Luiz and Mustafi are unlikely to get any action in the league any time soon.
Both Holding and Arteta will be glad that the defender didn’t leave in the summer. Arsenal would’ve been desperately short of cover at the back a few weeks ago had he left. He is now one of the first names of the team sheet and it is fair to say, he has earned it.