Why Arsenal would be right to offer Rob Holding a new deal

According to claims from Football Insider (h/t Football London), Arsenal are set to open negotiations with Rob Holding over a new deal. The centre-back’s current £25,000-a-week deal at the Emirates runs until 2023 but Mikel Arteta is keen to secure his long-term future before he enters the final two years of his contract. 

As per the report, Arteta rates Holding very highly and sees the defender as an integral part of his plans moving forward. The 25-year-old has come back strongly in the ongoing campaign after an injury-ravaged 12 months in North London.

fbl eng pr arsenal training health virus
Arsenal’s English defender Rob Holding leaves Arsenal’s Colney training centre north of London. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Holding ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee back in December 2018 and spent more than 9 months on the sidelines before making a return in Arsenal’s EFL Cup tie against Nottingham Forest last September. 

The 25-year-old, who rose through the youth ranks of Bolton Wanderers, initially joined Arsenal back in the summer of 2016. Holding only played a bit-part role under former boss Arsene Wenger, starting 9 PL games in each of his first two seasons in North London, although he featured regularly in the Gunners’ Europa League campaigns.

Holding assumed a more significant role in the squad following the appointment of Unai Emery in the summer of 2018 before having his progress thwarted by a long-term knee injury. He only started 6 league fixtures last season following his return from injury but has firmly established himself as a key cog at the back for Arsenal this term. 

Rob Holding (L) in action against Liverpool (Getty Images)
Rob Holding (L) in action against Liverpool (Getty Images)

The Manchester-born star has already made 15 appearances in all competitions this season so far, starting seven out of the club’s last eight PL games. Holding has established a reliable pairing at the heart of the defence with summer signing Gabriel Magalhaes, who has also been among the shining lights in what has been a dismal start to the season for the Gunners.

Putting things into context, Arsenal offering Rob Holding a new deal would certainly be a step in the right direction. Arteta has shown plenty of faith in the former England U-21 international, who was even handed the captain’s armband in the club’s recent 2-1 defeat against Everton last weekend.

That he has usurped a stalwart like David Luiz in the pecking order clearly underlines his growing status as a regular fixture in the Gunners’ backline.

Looking at the bigger picture, Arsenal are still very much in the process of restructuring their central defensive unit. The likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers are out of the mix by Arteta after failing to live up to the expectations last season. Gabriel has proven himself to be an excellent addition to the backline, with the Brazilian nailing down a regular starting role this season.

Rob Holding was outstanding in the last few games for Arsenal (Getty Images)
Rob Holding joined Arsenal in 2016 (Getty Images)

Considering that David Luiz is also nearing his twilight at 33, Arteta has been content to hand Holding more opportunities alongside Gabriel. Arsenal’s new pairing at the back has looked fairly comfortable and with both defenders set to enter their prime years soon, they could well be the answer to the club’s defensive inconsistency in recent years. 

Verdict

Rob Holding has been at the club for a pretty long time, and while his career has been blighted by injuries to some extent, Arsenal need to be aware of the fact that the centre-back still potentially has his best years ahead of him at 25. 

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The Englishman ticks plenty of boxes to evolve into an excellent long-term servant at the back for the Gunners in the coming seasons. Having said that, Arsenal tying him down to a new long-term contract would be a shrewd piece of business.

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