As news broke from The Athletic yesterday that Rob Holding has signed a new long-term contract at Arsenal, with Mikel Arteta all but confirming the news in his press conference too, there has been a mixed reception to the story.
When asked about Holding’s new deal, Mikel Arteta said: “It’s something that we will announce as quickly as we can, but it looks like [he has signed a new contract].”
While some have criticised the decision, here is why I believe it was a wise move from Arsenal to secure his long-term future.
Firstly, this summer will see an exodus of Arsenal centre backs, as the contracts of David Luiz, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi all expire in June, leaving Arsenal with three right-sided centre backs in Calum Chambers, who is yet to play since his injury against Chelsea in December 2019, William Saliba, who isn’t deemed ready by Arteta, and Rob Holding.
The 25-year-old is also a registered homegrown player, which is a huge bonus for Arsenal’s European squad registration, and he won’t be taking up a huge space on the wage bill either, with players’ wages being a big restriction on Arsenal’s ability to spend money in the transfer window.
In my opinion, Holding doesn’t have the quality to be a consistent starting centre back for Arsenal, however, similar to Pablo Mari, he is a good squad option to have and I would not have any concerns if he had to step in for a few games to cover for an injury or suspension.
The form of the ex-Bolton centre back has been mixed this season, however, his partnership with Pablo Mari has given a good boost of confidence that Arsenal have some capable back-up defenders to Gabriel and whoever his partner is next season.
My preference would be to see Arsenal bring in a top-right centre back in the summer, or give William Saliba an opportunity there and have Rob Holding and Calum Chambers, providing he has a strong recovery to his injury, as back-up options.
Some may argue that Arsenal are once again handing lengthy contracts to average players, however, unlike some others, Holding offers more than just a place on the wage bill or a spot in the squad.
Overall, I think this was a wise decision, and at the very least it protects the value of an English centre back.